The type 2 diabetes drug liraglutide could affect heart variability in newly diagnosed people who are overweight and have heart problems, according to new research.
Liraglutide is a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist which helps control blood sugar levels and reduces post-meal hyperglycemia. The drug is marketed as Victoza and Saxenda.
Dr Preman Kumarathurai, from the Copenhagen University Hospital of Bispebjerg in Denmark, and colleagues carried out the trial.
They used liraglutide and a placebo, alongside a backbone therapy of metformin, to measure heart rate variability of 41 subjects by using a special monitoring system. The participants were all overweight, newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and had stable coronary artery disease (CAD).
The findings showed that when compared with the placebo, liraglutide decreased the standard deviation of beat-to-beat (SDNN) in 27 people.
However, the drug also decreased the root mean square of successive differences (RMSSD) and increased the average daytime and night-time heart rate.
The authors wrote: “In overweight patients with CAD and newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes, liraglutide increased heart rate and reduced heart rate variability despite significant weight loss and improvement in metabolic parameters.
“To our knowledge, this randomized placebo-controlled study is the first to assess the effects of a GLP-1 RA on long-term HRV in a clinical setting.”
The research, which was carried out to determine why reduced heart variability and increased heart rate is often associated with cardiovascular mortality, has been published in the Diabetes Care journal.

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