Diabetes drug offers benefits against hardening of arteries

Mon, 12 Mar 2012
A new study has claimed that the type 2 diabetes drug metformin can help to prevent the progression of hardening of the arteries, a condition known as coronary atherosclerosis.

The research into 50 HIV patients who were receiving antiretroviral therapy and had been diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, involved participants taking metformin each day over the course of a year. It was shown that patients had no progression of coronary artery calcification (CAC) as compared to those who received a placebo and saw calcium increases of up to 50 per cent.

It was also revealed that participants who changed their lifestyle and took more exercise and attended had dietary counselling also experienced no increase in their calcification levels, although there was some proof of an improvement in CAC scores for people who combined metformin with lifestyle modifications.

Diabetes rates are known to be higher for HIV patients, and CAC, where the arteries develop plaque, is a strong predictor of cardiovascular disease in HIV negative people and is common in people with HIV and metabolic syndrome, especially those with abdominal obesity and insulin resistance, a precursor for diabetes.

As expected, metformin also helped to improve insulin resistance, and it was also reported that further research was needed to better identify the mechanisms of metformin in the prevention of CAC progression.
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