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Last Updated: Sunday, 6 June, 2004, 05:50 GMT 06:50 UK
'Heart drugs for diabetics' call
Pills - generic
The researchers suggest all those with Type 2 diabetes should take statins
Cholesterol-lowering drugs can halve the risk of strokes in people with diabetes, research has shown.

The study of over 2,000 patients, co-ordinated by University College London, was stopped early because the evidence of benefits was so strong.

The scientists say all Type 2 diabetics with at least one risk factor for heart disease should be given the drug.

The study was presented to the American Diabetes Association congress in Orlando, Florida.

The research was backed by Diabetes UK, the Department of Health and Pfizer UK.

Trial aborted

The 2,838 people with diabetes studied had no cardiovascular disease, and had relatively low cholesterol levels.

Doctors should now consider all of their patients with diabetes for statin therapy
Simon O'Neill, Diabetes UK
The patients were either given 10mg of the statin atorvastatin a day, or a dummy pill.

It was found, in people taking the statin, cardiovascular illnesses were cut by a third and strokes by 48%, compared to the other group.

The researchers suggest patients with Type 2 diabetes and a CV risk factor would benefit from being prescribed a cholesterol-lowering medicine such as the statin.

Professor John Betteridge of University College London, who led the research, said: "In this study, patients on atorvastatin experienced major cardiovascular benefits - so much so that the trial was stopped early because it would be unfair to those receiving placebo (dummy pills) to continue.

"Currently, only patients with diabetes with elevated cholesterol or established heart disease routinely receive statins - but this study shows that even those without CVD or high cholesterol could benefit from cholesterol-lowering."

Policy development

Simon O'Neill, head of information and education at Diabetes UK said: "People with diabetes spend 1.1 million days in hospital in the UK every year.

"Two thirds of this time is as a result of cardiovascular disease, much of which could be prevented. Doctors should now consider all of their patients with diabetes for statin therapy."

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: "The study findings and the economic evaluation as proposed will inform ongoing work and contribute to the development of health policy in this area.

"Findings will also feed into the guidance and guidelines programmes of the National Institute of Clinical Excellence."

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