Cholesterol Rx Recommended for Diabetes

Diabetes patients should take statins starting at age 40 according to new Canadian guidelines

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) People with diabetes are prone to having unhealthy cholesterol levels. New guidelines call for middle-aged diabetes patients to automatically be put on cholesterol-lowering medication.

Only about 13 percent of those with the disease have recommended levels of blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol, according to at study that is soon to be published in the Canadian Journal of Diabetes. The Canadian Diabetes Association has issued new guidelines urging diabetes patients to start taking statins at age 40 and blood pressure medication at age 55—even if they don’t have high cholesterol or high blood pressure.

"Keep careful check of cholesterol and blood pressure levels."

Jan Hux, MD, chief scientific advisor for the Canadian Diabetes Association (CDA), said that the 2013 Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Prevention and Management of Diabetes in Canada will be crucial for both the medical community and the growing number of people affected by diabetes from coast-to-coast.

“Each person’s experience with diabetes can be different and the best way to manage the disease involves addressing their unique needs and tailoring a treatment plan to best meet those needs,” said Dr. Hux. “The new Guidelines allow healthcare professionals to determine the best early management and treatment path to help reduce the potential for serious complications down the road.”

Diabetes rates in Canada have doubled over the past decade, with one in every three Canadians projected to have either diabetes or prediabetes by 2020, according to the CDA. If improperly managed, diabetes can lead to many devastating secondary complications such as heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney failure and limb amputations, which can significantly reduce the quality and length of life.

The guidelines call for all Canadian over 40 years of age to be screened for type 2 diabetes every three years.

Taking statins can help lower the risk for heart attack and stroke, for which those middle-aged diabetes patients are more prone. The guidelines also urge those who have had diabetes for 15 years or more and are over 30 to take these cholesterol-lowering medications.

For those 55 and up, the recommended blood pressure medications are angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors or angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs), which can protect against heart attacks and strokes.

Some studies have linked statins with increasing diabetes risk, and the Food and Drug Administration requires that these medications carry a warning about this risk. Research out of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston last year, however, found that the benefits of statins outweigh the risks.

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) advises that diabetes patients who are at least 40 and have at least one other risk factor, such a high blood pressure, take statins.

The ADA recommends blood pressure drugs to those 55 and up who have high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease or microalbuminaria, a possible marker for kidney disease which is linked to heart disease.

The new Guidelines encourage people living with diabetes to know their heart health ABCDEs:

A - A1C (a measure of average blood glucose) in optimal range

B - Blood pressure optimally controlled

C- Cholesterol in target range

D - Drugs - heart-protecting medications for the right patients

E - Exercise and other lifestyle measures

S - Stop Smoking

The 2013 Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Prevention and Management of Diabetes in Canada were released on April 8.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
April 12, 2013
Last Updated:
November 5, 2013