Featured | Aug 13, 2019

Statins & Type 2 Diabetes: Key Insights

This blog discusses a study linking statin usage with an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes, causing concerns among doctors about patient reactions. It emphasizes the importance of continued statin use for heart health despite the associated diabetes risk.


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Statins, or blood thinners, are among the most common medications administered by cardiologists, which are regularly prescribed to lower a patient’s cholesterol. It is estimated that as many as 27 percent of people aged 40-59 use statins to manage cholesterol, as well as lower the risk of conditions such as coronary heart disease and heart attacks. So it should come to no surprise that a study linking the common medication with Type 2 diabetes released by Ohio State University caused widespread alarm. To be more specific, the study demonstrated that individuals who took statins were more than twice as likely to develop diabetes than those who did not. Even more, patients who had been taking statins for more than two years were over three times more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes. On top of this, the study also reported that participants on statins also had a 6.5% blood sugar increase compared to those who were not on the medication.

Doctors are highly concerned about the implications of this information not only for the content of the study but because of the way patients will react. American patients are already generally untrustworthy of medicine as a whole, with a perfect example being the recently growing anti-vaccination movement. Thousands of misinformed parents have opted to not vaccinate their children, citing a variety of concerns from the debunked autism connection to a general mistrust of “Big Pharma”. Though there is a valid connection between Type 2 diabetes and statin usage, doctors widely advise that patients still take them, as the risk of heart attacks far outweighs the increased risk of Type 2 diabetes. Still, physicians are worried that patients will feel as though they were being poisoned all along, and stop taking their medication in light of the new study–even though their statins are preventing heart attacks.

 It is important to note that although the risk for diabetes is raised 9 percent, the figure almost exclusively applies to overweight patients. The risk is only raised 3 percent for patients in the normal weight range. For this reason, it is imperative that doctors focus on lifestyle changes to combat the onset of diabetes that may come with the medication, rather than advise patients to forgo this potentially lifesaving medication. Most patients taking blood thinners are already at high risk for heart attacks and other life-threatening medical emergencies. The need to stabilize these conditions takes priority over the possibility of Type 2 diabetes. The only situation where alternative treatments should be discussed is if the risk for a heart attack is relatively low. 

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