Cutting Amputation Risk with Statins

Statin use among diabetes patients may lower risk of amputations

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Patients with diabetes are at an increased risk of amputation (surgical removal of limb), heart disease and death, so the right treatment is critical.

A recent study found that diabetes patients who used statins — a type of medication that treats high cholesterol — had a significantly lower risk of amputation compared to patients who were not taking cholesterol-lowering medications.

"Talk to your doctor about appropriate diabetes treatment."

This study was led by Min-Woong Sohn, PhD, of the Center for Management of Complex Chronic Care at the Hines VA Hospital in Illinois. The research team examined the relationship between cholesterol-lowering medication, the risk of amputation in the lower half of the body five years after treatment and death. 

The researchers analyzed data from patients who were treated for diabetes in the US Department of Veteran Affairs healthcare system from 2001 to 2003. The study included 83,593 diabetes patients who were under the age of 65 and not on any cholesterol-lowering medication at the beginning of the study.

The five-year follow-up period was divided into 90-day periods, and use of statin and other cholesterol-lowering medications was monitored during each period. The researchers also recorded the number of amputations and deaths in the study sample during the five-year study period.

Several factors were taken into account when analyzing the findings, including patient age, gender, race/ethnicity, length of time patients had diabetes, marital status and other conditions including coronary artery disease, kidney failure and liver disease.

The researchers found that less than 1 percent of patients had had an amputation in the lower half of their body, and 14 percent died during the five-year follow-up.

Patients who used statins had a 35 to 43 percent lower risk of an amputation in the lower half of the body compared to patients who were not treated with any cholesterol-lowering medications.

The researchers did not find a significant difference in risk for amputation between patients who used statins and patients who used other cholesterol-lowering medications.

The study authors concluded that these findings are similar to those of a large clinical trial showing that statin use may lower the risk for amputation in diabetes patients.

This study is currently in press and will be published in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Vascular Surgery.

The study authors reported no conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
August 23, 2013
Last Updated:
August 23, 2013