hero image

 A recent study cautions that one commonly prescribed statin, which reduces cholesterol levels, may increase the risk of diabetes. While two popular cholesterol-lowering medications were found to reduce the likelihood of heart attacks and strokes, the study also revealed that rosuvastatin raises the risk of Type 2 diabetes. 

Cardiovascular disease medication could trigger Type 2 diabetes

The research suggests that both atorvastatin and rosuvastatin are equally effective in preventing strokes, heart attacks, and death in individuals with coronary artery disease.  For instance, rosuvastatin, marketed as Crestor, is associated with reduced cholesterol levels but carries a higher risk of causing diabetes compared to atorvastatin.

Statins are commonly used to reduce LDL cholesterol in patients with coronary artery disease, but there is limited research comparing the long-term effects of two different statins on these patients. Over 35 million people in the United States take statin drugs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Researchers analyzed the results of the LODESTAR clinical trial, which involved 4,400 adults with coronary artery disease in South Korean hospitals. The participants were randomly assigned to take either rosuvastatin or atorvastatin daily from September 2016 to November 2019. Medical and lifestyle information was collected at the beginning of the trial.

The Korean researchers conducted a comparison between two groups, examining differences in death rates, strokes, heart attacks, and coronary revascularization (a procedure to restore blood flow to the heart). They also assessed additional health factors, including Type 2 diabetes onset, heart failure hospital admissions, blood clot occurrences, and cataract surgeries.

Type 2 diabetes incidence higher in rosuvastatin

Out of all participants, 98.7% (4,341 individuals) completed the trial. The researchers found no significant differences between the two groups in terms of overall mortality, heart attacks (myocardial infarction), strokes, or revascularization procedures.

In the study, the rosuvastatin group had a slightly lower average LDL cholesterol level compared to the atorvastatin group, but the rosuvastatin participants had a higher incidence of Type 2 diabetes requiring medication (7.2% vs. 5.3%). Moreover, more individuals in the rosuvastatin group needed cataract surgery (2.5% vs. 1.5%). Safety results were similar in both groups.