NYMC Faculty Publications


Statins and Higher Diabetes Mellitus Risk: Incidence, Proposed Mechanisms, and Clinical Implications

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Review Article

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3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A reductase inhibitors are ubiquitously prescribed for cardiovascular disease (CVD) prevention and treatment. However, the use of statins has been linked to the development of new-onset diabetes mellitus (NODM), which could possibly increase future CVD risk. This phenomenon necessitates a clear discussion of the possible etiologies of this relationship and its broader clinical consequences. We discuss the reported incidence of NODM in statin users through a rigorous review of data from metaanalyses of randomized control trials examining this association. We also highlight the various possible mechanisms responsible for the development of statin-induced diabetes mellitus. Finally, we examine the clinical implications of this effect on future CVD risk and identify specific patient factors that can be used for risk-stratification strategies. Data from 14 randomized control trials metaanalyses suggest a 9-33% higher risk of NODM with statin use. Several cellular, molecular, and genetic mechanisms, as well as lifestyle habits, have been identified as potential underlying factors responsible for this elevated risk. The principle mode of the diabetogenic action of statins is still unclear, though it is likely the result of a complex interplay of pancreatic and extrapancreatic effects. It is understood that patient populations with a greater predisposition to diabetes mellitus, and those with thicker epicardial adiposity are more at risk for the development of statin-induced NODM. Despite these observations, robust data from a variety of investigations suggest that the CVD preventative benefits of statin treatment significantly outweigh the risks associated with the development of NODM. Nevertheless, further study must better identify the causative mechanisms involved in this process, its natural history, and the unique factors that will help clinicians risk stratify and appropriately monitor patients on statin therapy.