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Nat Rev Cardiol. 2011 May;8(5):278-90. doi: 10.1038/nrcardio.2011.23. Epub 2011 Mar 15.

Lipid control in patients with diabetes mellitus.

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Department of Diabetes and Endocrinology, University College Hospital, 3rd Floor Central, 250 Euston Road, London NW1 2PQ, UK.


Patients with diabetes mellitus are at increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Dyslipidemia, an important component of the insulin resistance syndrome and type 2 diabetes, is strongly related to CVD risk and is open to therapeutic intervention. Statins have proved to be safe, very-well tolerated, and highly effective in reducing the levels of LDL cholesterol and apolipoprotein B. Primary and secondary CVD prevention trials have shown that use of statins leads to highly significant reductions in the incidence of major CVD events. A wealth of data on the outcomes of statin therapy is now available to guide clinical practice in the population of patients with type 2 diabetes. Statin therapy in patients with type 1 diabetes seems to have a similar benefit to that seen in patients with type 2 diabetes. However, despite statin therapy, high CVD risk persists in these populations. More-intensive statin therapy produces greater reduction in the incidence of CVD events, but a more-global approach to lipid management is likely to result in further risk reduction. After reductions in the levels of LDL cholesterol and apolipoprotein B, the next target of lipid-lowering therapy is to increase HDL-cholesterol levels, which tend to be low in patients with type 2 diabetes. The most effective HDL-cholesterol-raising agent currently available for use in clinical practice is niacin. Trials with surrogate end points have pointed to the cardiovascular benefit of adding niacin to statin therapy. Large CVD end point trials, which include many patients with diabetes, are underway to test the combination of a statin and niacin versus a statin alone.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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