The blood pressure drug verapamil could lower blood glucose levels in people with diabetes, according to new research.
The study, published in Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice, is reportedly the first study to examine whether verapamil, a calcium-channel blocker (CCB) used to treat hypertensio, could lower fasting serum glucose in patients with diabetes.
The findings expand on a 2014 study that found verapamil slowed the decline of beta cells in mice and restored their ability to produce insulin.
In this new observation study, researchers at the University of Alabama evaluated nearly 5,000 patients with diabetes who participated in the Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) study.
1,484 of the participants were taking a CCB medication; 174 were treated with verapamil. On average, verapamil users had lower fasting blood glucose levels of 0.6 mmol/l compared to people with diabetes that were not taking CCB drugs.
Additionally, verapamil users treated with insulin and diabetes tablets had 1.3 mmol/l lower fasting blood sugar than people taking the same diabetes medication but who weren’t on any CCB drugs. For people with diabetes using only insulin, verapamil users had 2.1 mmol/l lower fasting blood sugar levels than people treated with insulin alone and no CCB medication.
Dr. Yulia Khodneva explained: “The change in glucose for that group compared to those not taking verapamil – 37 mg/dL (2.1 mmol/l) – is almost four times higher than when you look at the whole sample of diabetic adults.
“That made us think that verapamil is predominantly active for participants who have type 1 diabetes or those with type 2 diabetes who have really damaged beta cells. There seems to be something that works on the structural level, especially for those who have stronger beta-cell damage.”
The researchers stressed that if their findings are validated in other studies, new treatment options could be developed for people with type 1 diabetes and advanced type 2 diabetes.

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