Metformin could be used to help treat older people with heart failure, US researchers have said.
The commonly prescribed type 2 diabetes drug was shown to treat heart failure among people whose heart cannot contract properly due to a condition called preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF).
HFpEF develops when the left ventricle wall is stiffer than normal, which impacts its capacity to fill with blood.
University of Arizona researchers say metformin helps protect against HFpEF because it relaxes a heart muscle protein called titin. This allows more blood to fill the heart, which is then pumped round the rest of the body.
The findings are significant and could provide a valuable treatment option because nearly half of those who have suffered from heart failure have HFpEF. Despite it being such a common condition, there are currently no drugs to treat it.
Not only that, but it seems figures are on the rise with a predicton that by 2020, the heart condition will affect more than 8% of people aged 65 or older.
Henk L. Granzier from the Sarver Heart Center at the University of Arizona said: “Because the drug is already approved and well tolerated in humans, using it to target titin stiffness presents a unique opportunity for immediate translation to the clinic.
“We therefore conclude that metformin is a potential therapy for patients with HFpEF.”
Metformin has already been proven to be a versatile drug. Not only is it used to treat type 2 diabetes by lowering blood glucose levels, but it has applications for treating polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and some cancers.
The drug works by reducing the amount of sugar the liver releases into the blood and enables the body to respond better to insulin.
The findings have been published in the Journal of General Physiology.

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