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Cholesterol Imperils Many Diabetics, Experts Say

Mon Apr 19, 2004

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Adults with type 2 diabetes who have just one additional risk factor for heart disease should be taking medication to lower cholesterol levels, according to new guidelines from the American College of Physicians (ACP).

Dr. Vincenza Snow and members of the Clinical Efficacy Assessment Subcommittee of the ACP based their recommendations, reported in the Annals of Internal Medicine, on the results of 12 lipid-lowering studies that contained information about outcomes for people with diabetes.

Pooled data from the 12 studies indicated that so-called statin drugs (e.g., Lipitor, Zocor or Crestor), along with another lipid-lowering agent gemfibrozil, lead to a greater than 20 percent reduction in major heart-related events in patients with diabetes.

"This is life-saving information," Snow commented in an ACP press statement. "In addition to controlling blood sugar levels, people with diabetes may be surprised to know that they must also be vigilant about controlling their blood pressure and cholesterol levels."

Snow, of the ACP in Philadelphia, and her team recommend lipid-lowering therapy for all patients with diabetes and known coronary disease. Such treatment is also advised for patients with any significant risk factor for heart disease, including age older than 55 years, high blood pressure, smoking, enlargement of the left ventricle of the heart, previous stroke, and peripheral arterial disease.

The only patients with diabetes for whom these drugs seemed to provide little benefit were those with no risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

The researcher also found that statins were extremely safe.

SOURCE: Annals of Internal Medicine, April 20, 2004.

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