Playing The Odds With Statins: Heart Disease Or Diabetes?
Last year my cholesterol shot up despite living nowhere near a decent barbeque joint. I was totally stressed. I wasn't overweight. But I was pretty sedentary. My doctor prescribed a high dose of Lipitor, a powerful statin.
For women of a certain age, statins are supposedly the best thing since Lycra for keeping wayward bodies in check. Statins interfere with the synthesis of low-density lipoprotein, the "bad" cholesterol. LDL is a prime suspect in heart disease, the top killer of women.
The statin cut my cholesterol like buttah.
But statins can also increase the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, muscle and/or liver damage. Heart trouble and diabetes run in my family. Was I trading a heart attack for diabetes?
"We give statins to people with diabetes," was all my doc said.
That didn't answer my question. I knew from an unrelated test that I did not currently have coronary artery disease, so I decided to investigate the statin situation.
In 2012 the Food and Drug Administration slapped a black box warning on statins, saying that they could raise blood glucose levels in people at high risk of Type 2 diabetes. That meant an increase of anywhere from 9 to 27 percent in relative risk – in absolute terms about 0.3 excess cases of diabetes for every 100 people who are treated for a year with high-intensity statins (which lower cholesterol by 50 percent or more) and 0.1 excess cases of diabetes for every 100 people treated with moderate-intensity statins (which lower cholesterol by 30 to 50 percent.)
Because doctors disagree on who should get statins, in 2013 the American Colleg Continue reading