Moderate-intensity statin therapy reduces the incidence of heart failure in people with type 2 diabetes, according to new research.
The study, conducted by researchers at the department of endocrinology and metabolism at the National Cerebral and Cardiovascular Centre in Japa, found that the reduced risk was independent of levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) – also known as “bad” cholesterol.
Statins are cholesterol-lowering drugs. Because diabetes has a significant impact on cholesterol levels and the heart, people with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes are often prescribed statins to offset the increased risk of heart disease associated with high blood glucose levels. However, the relationship between statins and diabetes – particularly type 2 diabetes – is complicated.
The researchers analysed data from 600 adults, with a mean age of 66.3 years. 68 per cent of the participants were male, and all of the participants had type 2 diabetes.
Participants were divided into three groups: the first received low-intensity statin treatment; the second received moderate-intensity statin treatment, and the third did not receive statin treatment.
Eventually, 17.7 per cent of the participants received a diagnosis of heart failure. The risk of heart failure was significantly lower in the moderate-intensity group than the low-intensity group. Even if the moderate-intensity statin treatment group already showed signs of cardiovascular artery disease (CAD), they still showed lower signs of heart failure.
“The effect of the statin intensity was irrespective of LDL levels and apparent, especially in diabetes with prevalent CAD or with [B-type natriueretic peptide] Statins and diabetes: a controversial relationship
The link between statins and type 2 diabetes is controversial. Statins are prescribed to people with diabetes because diabetes increases the risk of high cholesterol. Seven out of 10 people with type 2 diabetes and three out of 10 people with type 1 diabetes will develop high cholesterol.
However, a number of studies have linked statins to a higher risk of type 2 diabetes. The immune response caused by statins, many researchers argue, impairs the function of insulin. In other words, statins are prescribed to offset the risk of heart disease caused by diabetes, but in doing so they exacerbate the condition. Because statins only prevent a serious cardiovascular event in one per cent of people who take them, it is hotly debated whether the benefits of statin treatment for people with diabetes is worth the potential negative effects.

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