Statins and Diabetes

Angie Szumlinski News

For those of you who know me, I have been a longstanding proponent of fewer medications in our senior population, however, polypharmacy continues to plague our centers and seniors living in the community. Sure, there are medications that MUST be continued, such as insulin, cardiac medications, etc. however, I remember working the floor in a center (yes, years ago) and physicians ordering “drug holidays”. Even then, we knew the human body needs a break from medications!

Recently, JAMA published an article in response to a study that reported a significant progression of type 2 diabetes after the initiation of statin therapy (statin therapy is often initiated when a patient has elevated LDL, i.e., bad cholesterol). The argument for ordering cholesterol-lowering drugs is that it may help prevent heart attacks and strokes understood. That said, statin drugs are not miracle drugs, and they have many side effects including muscle pain, liver damage, neurological side effects, and yes Virginia, increased blood glucose levels.

At the end of the day, what are you doing to advocate for your residents? It might be time to meet with your pharmacy provider and medical director and discuss the risk/benefit of using medications like statins! Another concern, are we administering pain medications to residents complaining of muscle pain without identifying the cause of the pain? Could it be a response to a medication? Lots to think about, you know the old saying “first do no harm”! Get an ad hoc QAPI committee meeting together, talk about polypharmacy and focus your attention on statin use! Stay the course, stay informed, and stay well!