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New research claims cholesterol drug could reduce risk of amputations in people with diabetes

People with diabetes who were prescribed the cholesterol-lowering drug fenofibrate reduced their risk of minor amputations by 36 per cent, according to new research.

Researchers in Australia, Finland and New Zealand looked at almost 10,000 people aged between 50 and 75 with Type 2 diabetes. About half of them were given fenofibrate while the other half were given placebos.

New discovery

The study, first published in 2005, aimed to see if fenofibrate prevented heart disease, which it did not. But in this new analysis, experts found patients on fenofibrate had a 36 per cent lower risk of a first amputation than those on the placebo.

The risk of minor amputations in people without large vessel arterial disease was nearly 50 per cent lower in the group taking fenofibrates, but the risk of a major amputation was not substantially different between the two groups. Taller people were also more likely to have amputations.

Fenofibrates can cause side effects including abdominal pain, nausea, pancreas and lung problems.

Leading research forward

“This large trial suggests that the drug fenofibrate could play a role in the reduction of below-the-ankle amputations in people with Type 2 diabetes," said Dr Victoria King, Research Manager at Diabetes UK.

"We know that approximately 100 people a week in the UK lose a toe, foot or lower limb due to diabetes.

“Managing blood glucose levels by keeping them within acceptable limits can cut the risk of diabetes-related amputations, and trials like this one guide us towards further ways of reducing the risk of diabetes associated amputations.”

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