Preventing Diabetes Related Heart Attacks

Cardio and Blood |

People with diabetes who’ve already had a heart attack may forestall further heart trouble by taking a cholesterol-lowering drug, even if they don’t have high cholesterol, according to a study in the December 8, 1998, Circulation.

The study was a follow up to previous research showing that the cholesterol lowering drug pravastatin (Pravachol) helped prevent second heart attacks and improved survival in nondiabetic people who’d already had a heart attack (see the December 1998 Heart Watch).

About 600 participants with diabetes, not included in the previous report, were the focus of the new study. Most had moderate LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, with an average of 136 mg/dl. Half were given pravastatin and half received dummy pills.

Over five years, diabetics taking pravastatin had lower LDL and one quarter fewer heart attacks and heart procedures (angioplasty or bypass) than those taking placebo. Because diabetics with heart disease have an extremely high risk for repeat heart attacks, the potential for avoiding further heart attacks is great.

Although it’s well established that diabetes increases the risk of further heart problems for people with heart disease, this is the first study to show that the risk can be reduced through lowering cholesterol with medication (along with a hearthealthy diet) even when LDL levels are slightly elevated. If you have diabetes and heart disease, ask your doctor whether you should take a cholesterol-lowering drug.