Findings from a new analysis published in Drugs & Aging suggest that elderly women should not be exposed to higher doses of statins

Statins have demonstrated efficacy in reducing the risk of cardiovascular events and mortality but some research also suggest they increase the risk of new-onset diabetes. 

Dr. Mark Jones, from the University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia, said, “The vast majority of research is on 40- to 70-year-old men.” And so, his team of researchers sought to estimate the risk of new-onset diabetes associated with statin exposure in a cohort of elderly women, a patient population where not much is known regarding this risk. 

The study authors analyzed a population-based longitudinal cohort study with data linked to the national death index and to national databases of non-hospital episode of medical and prescription drug dispensing. A total of 8,372 Australian women born between 1921–1926 who were alive at January 1, 2003 without diabetes and eligible for data linkage were included. Patients’ exposure to statins was determined by prescriptions dispensed between July 1, 2002 and August 31, 2013.  

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During the 10-year follow-up period, almost half of the cohort (49%) had filled a prescription for statins and 5% had started treatment for new-onset diabetes. Statin exposure was associated with a higher risk of treatment for new-onset diabetes (hazard ratio [HR] 1.33%, 95% CI: 1.04–1.70; P=0.024). This risk rose with higher doses of statin from a HR 1.17 (95% CI: 0.84–1.65) for the lowest dose to HR 1.51 (95% CI: 1.14–1.99) for the highest dose. 

“The dose-response for statins on new-onset of diabetes suggests elderly women should not be exposed to higher doses of statins,” concluded Dr. Jones. Careful monitoring of increased blood glucose is needed in this patient population for early detection and management of this potential effect, including any de-prescribing that may be needed. 

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