People with diabetes have a heightened risk of dying from heart problems. While certain lifestyle changes can protect your heart, some medications may also lower your risk of dying from diabetes-related heart problems.
Type 2 diabetes patients taking statin drugs had a lower risk of death than those who did not take statins.
Statin drug use was also associated with a lower risk of death in people without diabetes.
In randomized clinical trials, statin medications have been shown to reduce the risk of death in people with type 2 diabetes.
In their study, Vilmundur Gudnason, MD, PhD, of the University of Iceland, and colleagues wanted to see if statins had the same beneficial effect in observational studies on older people with type 2 diabetes.
They found that type 2 diabetes patients taking statin drugs had a 50 percent lower risk of dying from heart-related causes and a 53 percent lower risk of dying from all causes, compared to those not taking statins.
Among those without diabetes, statin use was associated with 16 percent lower risk of heart-related death and a 30 percent lower risk of death from all causes.
Diabetes patients who used statins had a similar risk of death as the general population without diabetes. In other words, statin use lowered the risk of death to a normal levels, rather than the increased risk generally associated with diabetes.
According to the authors, this observational study adds to a body of evidence showing that statin use may be beneficial for people with type 2 diabetes.
"Our results urgently call for other population-based studies with comparable information to confirm the effect of statin use on [death risk] in individuals with type 2 diabetes," they said.
The study - which included 5,152 men and women from 66 to 96 years of age - was published in BMJ Open.
The research was funded by the NIH, the NIA Intramural Research Program, Hjartavernd (the Icelandic Heart Assocation) and Althingi (the Icelandic parliament).