Statin diabetogenicity: guidance for clinicians

Cardiovasc Diabetol. 2013;12 Suppl 1(Suppl 1):S3. doi: 10.1186/1475-2840-12-S1-S3. Epub 2013 May 30.


Type 2 diabetes (T2D) is a strong, independent risk factor for cardiovascular (CV) and cerebrovascular outcomes. Meta-analysis of five randomised clinical trials (n = 33,040) showed that, although intensive versus standard glycaemic control significantly reduced CV events in people with T2D, the reduction was less than that achieved with lipid-lowering or antihypertensive treatment. Furthermore, fasting plasma glucose (FPG) concentrations were a modest predictor for CV risk in people without T2D. Thus, although effective glycaemic control is important for the prevention/management of T2D, other risk factors must be addressed to effectively reduce CV risk. Reducing low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol levels using statins significantly reduces CV risk in people with and without T2D. Although statins are generally safe and well tolerated, conflicting data exist regarding the diabetogenic effects of some statins. Based on recent clinical trial data, the US Food and Drug Administration have changed the labelling of all statins to include 'an effect of statins on incident diabetes and increases in haemoglobin A1c and/or FPG'. However, the literature suggests that the beneficial effects of most statins on CV risk continue to outweigh their diabetogenic risks and that statins should remain as first-line therapy for the majority of people with dyslipidaemia and metabolic syndrome or T2D. Mechanisms explaining the potentially higher incidence of T2D with statin therapy have not been confirmed. However, independent predictors for statin-associated T2D appear to include elevated levels of baseline FPG, BMI, blood pressure and fasting triglycerides. Moreover, although some statins (for example, atorvastatin) are associated with increased haemoglobin A1c levels in patients receiving intensive but not moderate therapy, other statins (for example, pitavastatin) have demonstrated neutral or favourable effects on glucose control in patients with and without T2D or metabolic syndrome. The potential diabetogenic effects of statins may therefore differ between drugs. In conclusion, conflicting data exist regarding the diabetogenic effects of statins. Further studies are required to understand whether all statins have the same effect and whether some patient groups are at higher risk than others. Meanwhile, results suggest that the net CV benefit favours the use of statin therapy in patients with dyslipidaemia, irrespective of T2D risk.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / mortality
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / chemically induced*
  • Drug Interactions
  • Dyslipidemias / blood
  • Dyslipidemias / complications
  • Dyslipidemias / drug therapy*
  • Dyslipidemias / mortality
  • Humans
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / adverse effects*
  • Lipids / blood
  • Metabolic Syndrome / blood
  • Metabolic Syndrome / complications
  • Metabolic Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Metabolic Syndrome / mortality
  • Patient Selection
  • Quinolines / adverse effects*
  • Risk Factors
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Biomarkers
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors
  • Lipids
  • Quinolines
  • pitavastatin