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Statins for All Adults With Diabetes?

Study: One-Third Less Diabetes-Linked Heart Disease With Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs

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"If you are crossing the street, you can choose to wear a helmet because it may save your life in case you are knocked by a car. You are relatively safer, although the absolute risk of this is quite low," Cheung tells WebMD. "But if you are riding a motorcycle, the helmet is going to be important because your risk of an accident is much greater."

Some people with diabetes have a lower heart-disease risk than others. For them, Cheung says, taking statins would be like wearing a helmet to cross the street.

"It was once believed that the mere fact of having diabetes gives a person the same risk of heart attack as a person who had a heart attack before," Cheung says. "We are now treating people's diabetes much better than before, and their baseline risk of heart disease is lower than before."

Cheung says everyone with diabetes should discuss cholesterol-lowering therapy with their doctors, but he does not think doctors should always recommend drug therapy.

Baigent disagrees.

"Even if a person has a 1% per year risk of a major cardiovascular event, there is still a benefit from statins," he says. "So for people whose risk increases over time -- and after middle age, that is most everybody with diabetes -- there is no point in not treating them with statins."

The study by Baigent and colleagues, and an editorial by Cheung, appear in the Jan. 12 issue of The Lancet.

(If you have diabetes, has your doctor talked to you about a statins? Will you ask? Talk about it on WebMD's Type 2 Diabetes Support Group board.)

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