The common type 2 diabetes drug, metformin, has been associated with reduced mortality rates following surgery, and the researchers hope it could help extend the lives of thousands of people per year.
An American research team studied health data from more than 10,000 adults with type 2 diabetes who underwent a major operation between 2010 and 2016.
They discovered that 59% of those people who had a metformin prescription before their op. Further analysis showed there was nearly a 25% reduction in the risk of 90-day mortality rates and a 15% reduction in those people being readmitted to hospital within the same 90-day timeframe.
In an interview with MedPage Today, lead researcher Dr Katherine Moll Reitz, from the University of Pittsburgh, said: “Metformin has been shown to have powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-aging properties, making this first line treatment for type 2 diabetes an excellent candidate for preoperative training and prehabilitation.”
Dr Reitz added: “After controlling for differences between treatment groups, metformin exposure was associated with a major reduction in both 90-day morbidity and mortality in diabetics.
“If we conservatively estimate that 20 million major surgeries occur annually in the United States, our data would suggest metformin may help to reduce readmissions for 200,000 Americans and prolong the life of 10,000 each year!”
In the UK, metformin is also a commonly prescribed drug given to people who have been unable to manage their type 2 diabetes with diet and exercise alone.
The drug works by reducing the amount of glucose produced and released by the liver, and by increasing insulin sensitivity.
The study has been published in the JAMA Surgery journal.