Many Not Adhering to Statin Regimen

The majority of people at high risk for heart disease or stroke, including those with Type 2 diabetes, are not adhering to their prescribed statin treatment regimens, according to researchers at North Carolina State University.


People with Type 2 diabetes are predisposed to having abnormal blood fat levels, putting them at higher risk of conditions such as heart disease and stroke (the leading causes of death in those with Type 2). Statins are a class of drugs that slow down the production of cholesterol, allowing the liver to clear it from the blood more effectively. Medicines in this class, including lovastatin (brand name Mevacor), pravastatin (Pravachol), simvastatin (Zocor), atorvastatin (Lipitor), fluvastatin (Lescol), and rosuvastatin (Crestor), are the first-choice treatment for lowering levels of LDL, or “bad” cholesterol.

Using a research model to look at people who have Type 2 diabetes, the investigators found that only 48% of people who had been prescribed one of these drugs was still taking the medicine regularly and at the prescribed dose after a year. After 10 years, only about 27% of those with a statin prescription were adhering to their treatment regimen. Among those at high risk who were taking the medicines as prescribed, the researchers found that the quality and length of life was significantly increased, by up to 1.5 quality-adjusted life years (a measure of the effect of health conditions on quality of life).

“These findings suggest that adherence-improving interventions — such as patient education or electronic reminders to take medications — can significantly improve the quality and length of life, particularly for high-risk patients,” notes study coauthor Brian Denton, MD.

If you have been prescribed a statin and you are having trouble remembering to take it (or are concerned about side effects), you should speak with your health-care provider. You’ll also want to read the article “Managing Your Medicines,” by doctor of pharmacy and certified diabetes educator Joshua J. Neumiller, for “techniques, devices, services, and other resources that can help you keep your medicines straight and take them at the right times.”

To learn more about the study, read the article “Most at-Risk Patients Don’t Adhere to Statin Treatment, Despite Real Benefits” or see the study’s abstract in the journal Medical Decision Making. And for more information on statins, click here.

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  • calgarydiabetic

    They can also lead to a loss of quality years of life if your muscles deteriorate.

  • Spencer

    My doctor prescribed Lipitor, explaining that while my cholesterol numbers were not high, diabetic patients taking a statin drug had a much better survival rate after heart attack. I took the drug for two weeks, and my quality if life was gone. Every joint hurt, I had to have help to get out of a chair, and had to use a cane to walk. I called my doctor and told him what had happened and that I was going to stop taking the Lipitor, he agreed. How many other people have had similar side effects, and how would that effect the statistics in the report? Could that be why patients are not continuing to take the statin drugs?

    I know from talking with others that not everyone can take statin drugs. I have several friends who are cardiac patients, and have had side effects to statin drugs. For us that extra year and a half would not be worth it.

  • Ray

    For anyone without coronary disease, I think thing a statin is the old duck and cover, give someone something to do, even if it does no good trick that has been played on us.
    There have been those that say you should, there are those that said you should not.
    The ones that said you should not seem way more credible.
    The statement that diabetics are more likely to have coronary problems seems to be verified by statistics. But not much science. It is like someone looks at a bunch of numbers, feeds them into the computer and a result comes out. Then they guess what it means. And I do mean guess. They call them theories, sound more credible.
    It ranks right up with people who fly in airplanes are more likely to be in an airplane mishap.
    I’ve been around long enough to have gone through lots of medical break throughs. Remember when eggs were bad? carbs were king? stretch before exercise? These things lasted a long time and I think more people were harmed than helped.
    I believe people will be saying what idiots were those that took those statins, what were they thinking?