A new study has reviewed the benefits of sulphonylureas as second-line treatment for people with type 2 diabetes.
Sulphonylureas are drugs which control blood sugar levels by stimulating insulin production in the pancreas. They may be added to metformin or used as standalone treatment.
The results from a new US study have linked the use of sulphonylureas instead of, or alongside metformin, with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
A total of 77,000 people with type 2 diabetes were analysed who started taking metformin between 1998-2013. At a follow-up investigation just under 26,000 people had been given a sulphonylurea as a second-line treatment.
The findings, published in the BMJ journal, suggest those took a sulphonylurea were 26% more likely to have a heart attack, and the risk of death was 28% higher compared with those who remained on metformin alone.
There were also similar risks in the study associated with those who stopped taking metformin completely and replaced the medication with a sulphonylurea.
“These data suggest that adding a sulphonylurea to metformin treatment is preferable to switching to sulphonylurea monotherapy,” the researchers wrote. “It also suggests that continuing metformin alone and accepting higher HbA1c targets is preferable to switching to sulphonylureas when considering both macrovascular outcomes and hypoglycemia.”
Whilst the study shows that sulphonylureas to be associated with increased risks of heart disease and higher mortality, it is important that people do not stop taking these medications as a result.
If you are taking sulphonylurea drugs, and have questions or concerns, your doctor should able to discuss these with you to help you make informed decisions as there are a number of factors that can affect heart disease risk.
Research from our Low Carb Program shows that more than 40% of people with type 2 diabetes who start the program on medication have been able to improve their blood sugar levels and reduce their medication needs after 1-year.

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