Statins could stop diabetics going blind: Pills ‘cut damage to blood vessels in eye’
- Statins could protect against blindness caused by diabetes, researchers find
- Patients taking drugs were up to 40% less likely to suffer from complications
- Added benefit of reducing inflammation in the eye and nerve damage in limbs
- The Danish researchers looked at 62,716 patients with diabetes aged over 40
Statins could protect against blindness and amputations caused by diabetes, researchers have found.
Diabetes patients taking the cholesterol-lowering drugs were up to 40 per cent less likely to develop these complications.
Experts believe the pills may have the added benefit of reducing inflammation in the eye and nerve damage in limbs – which in severe cases can lead to feet being amputated.
Statins could protect against blindness and amputations caused by diabetes, researchers found (file picture)
Around 29 per cent of patients with diabetes suffer damage to the blood vessels in the eye, leading to sight problems and one in ten develop foot ulcers.
The complications are debilitating for patients and cost the NHS up to £14billion a year.
Danish researchers looked at 62,716 patients with diabetes aged over 40, during a three-year period. A quarter of them happened to be taking statins for high cholesterol, and the rest had never been prescribed the pills.
The study, published in the Lancet medical journal, showed that patients on statins were 40 per cent less likely to develop sight problems and 34 per cent less at risk of nerve damage.
Lower risk: Diabetes patients taking the cholesterol-lowering drugs were up to 40 per cent less likely to develop these complications (file picture)
They were 12 per cent less likely to get gangrene in the foot – as a result of an ulcer caused by nerve damage – which often leads to amputation.
The researchers, led by Professor Børge G Nordestgaard, chief physician in clinical biochemistry at Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark, were surprised by the findings. They had expected statins would make patients more likely to suffer complications, because they further raise blood sugar levels. Other experts think an added benefit of the drugs is that they reduce inflammation in the nerves, preventing them from damage.
In July, health watchdog NICE issued controversial guidelines urging GPs to prescribe statins to 17million patients to prevent heart disease. There is a growing body of research suggesting statins also protect against other illnesses including dementia and certain cancers. But some experts said it was far too early for doctors to consider prescribing statins to all patients with diabetes to prevent complications.
Dr David Preiss, from the British Heart Foundation’s cardiovascular research centre at the University of Glasgow, said: ‘Statins also have anti-inflammatory effects which might slow the progression of microvascular disease (in the small blood vessels) in the eye or kidney.
‘For now, however, any benefit of statins on microvascular complications remains unproven.’
Around 2.9million Britons have diabetes, and 90 per cent of these have Type 2, which is mainly caused by obesity. The numbers have increased by 50 per cent in less than a decade.
The NHS spends £14billion a year treating diabetes, and most of this is on complications.
Simon O’Neill, from the charity Diabetes UK, said: ‘Further research will be needed to find out if statins can actively help to reduce the risk of such complications.
‘The best way for people with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes to reduce their risk of complications is by taking prescribed diabetes medications and by maintaining a healthy weight through increased physical activity and eating a healthy balanced diet.’
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2750075/Statins-stop-diabetics-going-blind-Pills-cut-damage-blood-vessels-eye.html#ixzz3Cv1kUR5F
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