The pharmaceutical world has at least a hundred thousand wonder drugs and miracle medicines that claim to help diabetes, or at least, help control it. Of course, there are tons of debate and controversies surrounding them. In the light of it, today we look at the very popular cholesterol reducing substance called statin, and how it affects the level of diabetes in patients.
What are statins?
Basically, the statin drug is an inhibitor that reduces high levels of cholesterol in the blood. But before that, we need to know a little bit about cholesterol.
There are basically two ways that the human body derives cholesterol. The first is through the food that we consume, and the second is through the liver, which produces cholesterol by itself. Now, cholesterol is a fatty substance and is water insoluble, and there are two types, the “good cholesterol” and the “bad cholesterol”. The “bad cholesterol” has a tendency to accumulate in blood vessels, particularly near the heart, reducing the flow of blood to the heart, and thereby increasing the chances of heart diseases exponentially.
Thus, statin is required to reduce cholesterol content in the blood because not only do they inhibit the production of cholesterol, but they also increase the cholesterol absorbing ability of the body.
When do doctors recommend the statin drug?
An average healthy person’s blood cholesterol level should be level below 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). In case it is more than that, your doctor or general physician will first recommend measures such as a lifestyle modification which includes exercising and restricted diet, to reduce cholesterol levels in your blood. If such measures prove to be futile, the doctors may recommend using statins.
People who also have a history of Cardiovascular Diseases (CVD) in their families, and thus, are at a high risk of developing such heart related problems in the future, can be given dosages of statin drugs, but a lot of it depends on the person’s medical history. People currently living with some cardiovascular disease are also recommended to use statins because it has clinically proven to reduce the rate of mortality in such patients.
Is statin given to children?
According to clinical trials conducted over the years, statin drugs have shown to produce visible results in lowering the cholesterol content in children hereditary hypercholesterolemia. Of course, doctors first recommend lifestyle changes, and in case such measures do not work, statin drugs are recommended at the early age of 8 to 10.
What are some of the most popular statin containing drugs in the market?
With the increase in the number of people suffering from heart related problems, the sale of statin drugs are increasing each and every year. Some of the most prescribed and highest selling statin drugs in the pharmaceutical world include:
Sometimes, doctors recommend the statin drugs with a combination of other medicines like ezetimibe and niacin, depending completely on the medical requirements of the patient.
Do statins help those at risk of diabetes?
People who suffer from diabetes, are automatically at a higher risk of developing some cardiovascular disease in the future, as compared to other who do not have diabetes. According to clinical tests and trials, as well as the new set of guidelines as provided by the American College of Cardiology, American Diabetes Association and American Heart Association, the people above the age group of 40, who have a history of diabetes in the family and are currently suffering from diabetes, can benefit much from the use of statins, especially if they have a level of “bad cholesterol” which ranges between 70 to 189 mg/dL.
On the other hand, one study has shown that 2% of the normal people who use statin drugs, stand a risk of developing diabetes mellitus. However, the positive effect of statin outweighs such risks and negative effects.
What are the common statin side effects?
Like any other drug in the world, statin too has a few side effects. Some of the most common statin side effects include:
• Liver Damage: Although this side effect is very rare, in some cases statin drugs do tend to adversely affect the liver. It so happens, that statin containing drugs, apart from inhibiting cholesterol production by the liver, also increase the liver’s production of digestive enzymes, although at a very mild level. If the intake of statin is too much or the drug is too powerful, the enzyme production is excess, which gradually damages the cells of the liver.
• Skin rashes : In some cases, when the patient takes statin just by itself or with the combination of some other drug, the skin immediately tends to develop rashes in certain regions or the whole face starts to appear flushed and reddish.
• Inflamed muscles: Also called myositis, this is induced usually when statin drugs are taken in combination with some other medication. One of the common statin side effects, this may vary from patient to patient. For instance, while some people may experience mild soreness of muscles and a general sense of being tired, in extreme cases, other people may experience intense pain that may make the smallest of daily activities like walking, extremely painful and difficult.
• Temporary neurological diseases: Some people may develop a tendency to forget some things or may become confused. But thankfully, these side effect stops as soon as the consumption of the statin drug is stopped or discontinued.
Which people are more at risk of suffering from these side effects?
While any statin drug may produce mild side effects in any patient, there are always some who stand at a higher risk of suffering from these side effects.
• People who suffer from diabetes or are likely to develop diabetes.
• People who are taking a combination of statin drug along with some other medication.
• People who are 65 years or of older age.
• People with a history of chronologic liver diseases and related problems.
What can people do to prevent Diabetes?
Doctors all over the world, will always advice you to use any drug as the last resort. In fact, they always recommend a healthy lifestyle and good habits to prevent the onset of diabetes and such related heart diseases in the first place. Some of the natural steps, which you can take by yourself to control diabetes and consequently prevent heart disorders, are:
• Stop smoking and chewing of tobacco.
• Get regular checkups if you have a family history of diabetes.
• Reduce your intake of alcohol containing drinks.
• Get at least thirty minutes of exercise daily, preferably in fresh air.
• Include green vegetables and fruits in your diet.
• Reduce the intake of processed food that contain high levels of cholesterol.
• Avoid “fuzzy” carbonated drinks.
• Maintain your diabetes level and be in constant touch with your doctor.
• Reduce stress levels at work and in your personal life.
At the end of the day, what people must understand, is that there is no drug in the world that does not come without any side effects. When doctors recommend the use of a drug, they do so, only based on your medical history and whatever you tell them. Therefore, how a drug affects a person, varies from individual to individual.
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