Skip to content

Diabetes Health Center

Font Size

One Tiny Pill Takes on Heart Attack, Stroke, and Diabetes

WebMD Health News

Jan. 22, 2001 -- Every morning, Charles, a 61-year-old magazine editor who lives and works in Manhattan, pops a tiny pill that he knows will help him avoid a second heart attack. But now Charles -- and his doctors -- just found out that this little pill that helps prevent heart attacks may also protect him from developing diabetes or suffering a stroke. Powerful medicine from one little pill.

The pill Charles takes is one of a powerful class of drugs called statins. These drugs reduce the amount of cholesterol in the blood -- especially LDL, the so-called 'bad' cholesterol. Charles and his doctors knew that high levels of LDL in his blood caused the build-up up of a hard, fatty deposit called plaque inside his arteries. Eventually, that plaque build-up cut off the blood supply to his heart, causing Charles to have a minor heart attack five years ago.

Taking the drug has dropped his LDL from 180 to 110, and now, he says, "I feel fine." When told that two new studies suggest that the statins fight both diabetes and stroke as well, he was pleased but not overwhelmed. "I'm glad to hear I'm not taking something that causes cancer," was his reaction.

Physicians are a bit more enthusiastic.

"I've worked with statins for about 10 years, and at first we were all very nervous and concerned about possible side effects. But there seems to be nothing but good news with these drugs," says Allan Gaw, MD, PhD, director of the Clinical Trials Unit at Glasgow Royal Infirmary. "First, we find that they reduce heart attacks, then they reduce second heart attacks. Then we find they reduce stroke, and now there are even some studies to suggest they can reverse osteoporosis or be useful in the treatment of cancer. Now, of course, this finding about diabetes. Good news again."

Gaw is the senior author of one of two new statin studies reported in the Jan. 23 issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association. According to his study, use of one of the statin drugs -- pravastatin -- is associated with a 30% decrease in the incidence of type 2 diabetes. The second study links pravastatin with a 22% reduction in strokes in patients who have already suffered from angina or had a heart attack.

1 | 2 | 3

Is This Normal? Get the Facts Fast!

Check Your Blood Sugar Level Now
What type of diabetes do you have?
Your gender:

Get the latest Diabetes newsletter delivered to your inbox!


Your level is currently

If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Did You Know Your Lifestyle Choices
Affect Your Blood Sugar?

Use the Blood Glucose Tracker to monitor
how well you manage your blood sugar over time.

Get Started

This tool is not intended for women who are pregnant.

Start Over

Step:  of 

Today on WebMD

Diabetic tools
Symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and more.
woman flexing muscles
10 strength training exercises.
Blood sugar test
12 practical tips.
Tom Hanks
Stars living with type 1 or type 2.
kenneth fujioka, md
Can Vinegar Treat Diabetes
Middle aged person
Home Healthcare

Prediabetes How to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
type 2 diabetes
food fitness planner