Older Women Face Greater Risk of Diabetes From Statins

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr Mark Jones, Senior Lecturer
Faculty of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, School of Public Health
The University of Queensland

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Multiple clinical trials have shown statins reduce LDL cholesterol, cardiovascular events, and all-cause mortality. However statins are also associated with adverse events, including type 2 diabetes. There have been very few older women included in statin trials hence effects of the drug in this population are somewhat uncertain. Also, more generally, results from clinical trials may not translate well into clinical practice.

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?

Response: Over a 10 year follow up we found almost 50% of the women in the study had been prescribed a statin and 5% had begun treatment for new onset diabetes. The women who had been prescribed statins had a 33% increased risk of diabetes compared to the women who had not been prescribed a statin. Further, there was a dose-response effect where higher doses led to greater increased risk of diabetes.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Older women considering treatment with statins need to be aware of the increased risks of adverse events of statins including diabetes.

Also women currently on statins should be monitored for increased blood glucose levels that could lead to diabetes. Older women should be particularly reluctant to take high dose statins as these appear to be associated with the highest risk of diabetes.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: It would be interesting to look at whether women who initiated statins, became diabetic, and subsequently stopped statins could have their diabetes reversed.

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: The Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health offered a unique opportunity to investigate outcomes for these women. It’s a population-based longitudinal cohort study that has tracked participants health and wellbeing for 20 years. With data linkage to national databases of non-hospital episodes of medical care and prescription medication dispensing we were able to confirm diagnosis and dosage without having to rely on self-report, which can be affected by memory.

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Drugs Aging. 2017 Mar;34(3):203-209. doi: 10.1007/s40266-017-0435-0.

New-Onset Diabetes After Statin Exposure in Elderly Women: The Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health.

Jones M1, Tett S2, Peeters GM3,4, Mishra GD3, Dobson A3.


Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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