Objective: To determine whether elevated levels of cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) patients could be decreased by policosanol, a new cholesterol-lowering drug. NIDDM predisposes patients to coronary artery disease (CAD) through the direct action of hyperglycemia on the arteries as well as the dyslipidemia induced by NIDDM.
Research design and methods: This double-blind placebo-controlled trial was performed in 29 patients with NIDDM and hypercholesterolemia. After stable glycemic control was achieved by diet and/or oral hypoglycemic drugs, patients were instructed to follow a cholesterol-lowering diet for 6 weeks. Patients who met entry criteria received, under double-blind conditions, policosanol (5 mg) or placebo tablets twice a day for 12 weeks.
Results: Policosanol (10 mg/day) significantly reduced total cholesterol by 17.5% and LDL cholesterol by 21.8% compared with baseline and placebo. Furthermore, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol was raised by 11.3% (not significant), and triglycerides showed a statistically nonsignificant decrease of 6.6%. These changes in lipid profile were similar to those induced by policosanol in nondiabetic patients with type II hyperlipoproteinemia.
Conclusions: Glycemic control was unaffected by treatment. No clinically or biochemically adverse effects attributable to treatment were observed. Only one patient (placebo) withdrew from the trial because of an adverse experience (erythema). We concluded that policosanol is effective and safe in patients with NIDDM and hypercholesterolemia.