Statins Increase Your Blood Sugar. Is It a Drawback?

Medically reviewed by Anna Goldman, MD.

A large share of individuals with diabetes, each kind 1 and sort 2, are suggested to take statins. These cholesterol-lowering medication are related to very important well being advantages, notably a decrease threat of early loss of life from heart problems.

However do you know that statins — the widely-prescribed ldl cholesterol medication — may cause blood sugar spikes? For some folks, they could even set off the event of kind 2 diabetes, a situation typically known as statin-induced diabetes.

This text will talk about the chance of statin-induced hyperglycemia and diabetes — and why well being authorities consider that the advantages of statins nonetheless outweigh the dangers. 

The Advantages of Statins

When you have diabetes, you’re in all probability imagined to be taking a statin, too. Diabetes authorities advocate {that a} very excessive share of individuals with diabetes, whether or not kind 1 or kind 2, must be on statin remedy, together with everybody over the age of 40. (An on-line threat calculator can present you your individual suggestions.)

Statins are primarily meant to decrease LDL ldl cholesterol, the so-called “unhealthy ldl cholesterol” that’s believed to clog our arteries and result in coronary heart assault and stroke. However many massive and rigorous trials have discovered that statins have extra advantages that may’t be defined by enhancements in LDL ranges, and that the medication even confer main advantages to individuals who should not have elevated LDL to begin with.

The CARDS trial, for instance, was terminated two years forward of time as a result of the statin intervention was discovered to be so efficient. Adults with kind 2 diabetes utilizing a statin had been 27 % much less prone to die through the course of the trial, and 37 % much less prone to expertise a significant cardiovascular occasion. The JUPITER trial evaluated statins in sufferers with irritation however regular LDL ldl cholesterol. This trial was additionally stopped early as a result of it was so efficient: Individuals taking a statin had been 20 % much less prone to die, and 44 % much less prone to have any vascular occasion.

Although medical authorities nearly universally endorse the usage of statins, there’s good proof that these medication can have an sudden adverse metabolic impact: they provoke insulin resistance and better blood sugar. And it pushes some folks over the sting from prediabetes to full-blown kind 2 diabetes.

 Statins, Insulin Resistance, and Excessive Blood Sugar

Regardless of the spectacular proof in favor of statin use, there’s one large purple flag for folks with diabetes: Statins are identified to enhance insulin resistance, resulting in larger blood sugar ranges.

For over a decade, the Meals and Drug Administration has required a warning on statin labels stating that the medication “could increase ranges of blood sugar.” A number of different research within the years since have discovered comparable results:

  • A 2016 examine of sufferers with kind 1 diabetes discovered that statin use “deteriorates insulin sensitivity.”
  • A 2021 investigation discovered that “statin customers had the next chance of insulin remedy initiation, growing important hyperglycemia, experiencing acute glycemic issues, and being prescribed an elevated variety of glucose-lowering treatment lessons.”

 If you have already got diabetes of any kind, statins could make your glucose administration more difficult. Many research, resembling a 2018 meta-analysis, have pointed to elevated A1C and fasting blood glucose ranges, and the Diabetes Every day boards have many experiences of individuals experiencing this aspect impact. A 2021 overview which thought of a number of meta-analyses concluded that “there’s a small mixture impact of statins in rising hemoglobin A1C. This impact could also be best with high-dose atorvastatin and least with pitavastatin.”

One factor is evident: Regardless of some skepticism throughout the diabetes neighborhood, medical authorities are unanimous that the optimistic well being results of statins outweigh the dangers for folks with diabetes.

That doesn’t imply that it is advisable settle for statin-induced hyperglycemia as a essential evil. A scientific guideline from the Southern Medical Journal suggests that individuals with diabetes who’re simply beginning moderate- or high-intensity statin remedy ought to pay shut consideration to their blood sugar ranges and be ready to make different adjustments to their life-style or treatment to stop hyperglycemia from worsening. 

Statin-Induced Diabetes

When statins increase blood sugar ranges, they’ll invariably assist push some folks with prediabetes over the road into overt kind 2 diabetes: 

  • An evaluation of the JUPITER trial, talked about above as one of many strongest experiments exhibiting the advantages of statins, additionally discovered that trial contributors had been more likely to be recognized with kind 2 diabetes.
  • A diabetes prevention examine that evaluated adults at a “excessive threat” of diabetes discovered that those that developed kind 2 diabetes inside a decade had been 36 % extra prone to have been prescribed a statin — an affiliation that was not “confounded” by components like excessive levels of cholesterol.

It’s a shocking relationship, provided that statins are in any other case good in your metabolism. A latest overview within the Cleveland Clinic Journal of Drugs summarizes some additional particulars:

  • The chance of statin-induced diabetes is bigger with high-intensity statin remedy and bigger statin doses.
  • Conventional diabetes threat components, resembling weight problems, genetic historical past, and sedentary life-style, additionally assist make statin-induced diabetes extra seemingly.
  • The chance is very excessive with the concurrent use of glucocorticoid steroids, which additionally enhance insulin resistance.
  • Atorvastatin (Lipitor) could have a stronger glucose-raising have an effect on than different statins.
  • Pitavastatin (Livalo, Zypitamag) could have a decrease threat of elevated insulin resistance, although it’s also much less strongly related to optimistic cardiovascular results.

Only a few individuals are informed that they’ve a particular situation known as “statin-induced diabetes” — the situation is handled as if it had been similar to different frequent circumstances of kind 2 diabetes.

In an editorial, Eliot Brinton, MD, considers the scientific implications for those who seem to have circumstances of statin-induced diabetes. Like different specialists, he means that “the general risk-benefit ratio stays strongly in favor of statin remedy,” that means that hyperglycemia will not be alone adequate purpose to cease utilizing statins. However he additional argues that we should always not merely settle for the elevated threat of new-onset kind 2 diabetes. As an alternative, clinicians ought to take into account a few of the following extra measures to assist maintain hyperglycemia underneath management:

  • Food plan and life-style adjustments to fight rising blood sugar ranges
  • The usage of different glucose-lowering medicines
  • A desire for statins which can be much less prone to set off insulin resistance, particularly pitavastatin
  • Taking a “much less is extra” method and never instantly selecting high-intensity or maximally-tolerated statin regimens

The Backside Line

Statins are nearly universally really helpful to adults with diabetes as a result of they promise unbelievable safety from heart problems. However on the similar time, these medication have a regarding tendency to boost blood sugar ranges. In some folks, statins may even set off new circumstances of kind 2 diabetes.

Specialists agree that the advantages of statins far outweigh the dangers, and that if statins trigger a modest enhance in your A1C, it’s nonetheless price it for the spectacular cardiovascular safety. However that doesn’t imply that you must simply settle for larger blood sugar ranges. For those who’re involved that statins are irritating your blood sugar administration, you possibly can speak to your physician about switching to a distinct statin, moderating your dosage, or using different strategies — together with life-style adjustments or additional treatment — to assist maintain your glucose numbers in examine.


Colhoun H et al. Major Prevention of Cardiovascular Illness With Atorvastatin in Type 2 Diabetes within the Collaborative Atorvastatin Diabetes Research (Playing cards): Multicentre Randomised Placebo-Managed Trial. Lancet. August 2004.

Ridker, P. The JUPITER Trial: Outcomes, Controversies, and Implications for Prevention. Circulation: Cardiovascular High quality and Outcomes. Could 1, 2009.

Abbasi F, et al. Statins Are Related With Elevated Insulin Resistance and Secretion. Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology. August 26, 2021.

FDA Provides Diabetes, Reminiscence Loss Warnings to Statins. Reuters. February 29, 2012.

Duvnjak L and Blaslov Okay. Statin Remedy Is Related With Insulin Sensitivity Lower in Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus: A Potential, Observational 56-Month Observe-Up Research. Journal of Medical Lipidology. July-August 2016.

Mansi I et al. Affiliation of Statin Remedy Initiation With Diabetes Development: A Retrospective Matched-Cohort Research. JAMA Inner Drugs. October 4, 2021.

Cui JY et al. Statin Remedy on Glycemic Management in Type 2 Diabetic Sufferers: A Community Meta-Evaluation. Journal of Medical Pharmacy and Therapeutics. Could 7, 2018.

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Ridker P et al. Rosuvastatin to Forestall Vascular Occasions in Males and Girls with Elevated C-Reactive Protein. New England Journal of Drugs. November 20, 2008.

Crandall J et al. Statin Use and Danger of Creating Diabetes: Outcomes From the Diabetes Prevention Program. BMJ Open Diabetes Analysis & Care. October 10, 2017.

Brinton, E. Statin-Associated New-Onset Diabetes Seems Pushed by Elevated Insulin Resistance: Are There Medical Implications? Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology. October 27, 2021.

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