GLP-1 medications may protect diabetics from heart failure

Mon, 11 Mar 2013
Researchers in the US have found that GLP-1 analogues, a group of drugs prescribed for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, could protect against heart failure.

The scientists from Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit found that diabetics taking Byetta, Januvia, Victoza and other GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide-1) drugs, also known as incretin mimetics, were more than 40% less likely to be hospitalised for heart failure than patients on other blood sugar-lowering medications .

The finding comes from a retrospective study which examined data from more than 4,400 adult patients taking anti-diabetic medicines between 2000 and 2012. Of these patients, around 1,500 were prescribed GLP-1 analogues to help control their type 2 diabetes.

The study participants were observed for an average of 663 days, during which time there were 281 total hospitalisations (184 due to heart failure) and 158 fatalities.

After accounting for factors such as gender, age, race, duration of diabetes and heart disease, the researchers found that use of GLP-1 analogues was associated with a 41% reduced risk of hospitalisation for heart failure, a 44% lower risk of hospitalisation for any reason, and a 80% reduced risk of any-cause death compared with other diabetes medications.

Lead author of the study, Dr David Lanfear, said in a statement. "Our study data suggest that diabetic patients taking a particular class of medications are less likely to develop heart failure.

"I don't think we can say this will magically prevent all heart failure deaths, but the strength of the association warrants more investigation."

The Henry Ford researcher and cardiologist added that reasons why this class of anti-diabetic drugs appears to slash the risk of heart failure are unclear but are currently being investigated.

The research will be presented this Sunday at the American College of Cardiology's annual meeting in San Francisco.
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