Public Release: 

Physically fit adults have lower statin-induced diabetes risk

Presentation: 606 - Session: LF.RFO.17

American Heart Association

NEW ORLEANS, Nov. 13, 2016 -- Being fit may protect those who take cholesterol-lowering statins from developing statin-induced Type 2 diabetes, according to a preliminary study presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2016.

Researchers studied 5,143 veterans who didn't have diabetes but were at risk for the disease. Based on exercise testing, researchers divided the veterans into five fitness categories, from the least fit, low fit and moderately fit, to fit and highly fit, based on their exercise performance.

They found:

  • Among patients with high cholesterol, treatment with statins increased the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by 20 percent.
  • Diabetes risk was similar in the three least-fit categories.
  • Those in the fit category had a 22 percent lower risk of diabetes than the least fit.
  • Those in the highly fit category had a 42 percent reduction in diabetes risk compared to the least fit.

The good news is that the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes decreased progressively as patients' cardiorespiratory fitness improved. In the fit and highly fit groups, the risk of developing diabetes was not seen at all.

The risk of developing diabetes while being treated with statins for high cholesterol can be decreased among high-risk adults by improving their fitness status, researchers said.

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Puneet Narayan, M.D., Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Washington D.C. (Actual scientific presentation time is 4:10 p.m. CT/5:10 p.m. ET, Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016.)

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