A new study suggests a blood test could predict the likelihood of heart and kidney disease in people with type 2 diabetes.

The study pinpointed 4 specific biomarkers that when present at elevated levels signal an increased risk for these diseases in people with type 2 diabetes.

Patients who were administered a drug named canagliflozin demonstrated decreased levels of these biomarkers in comparison to those who received a placebo.

Treatment also reduced the odds of hospitalisation due to heart-related complications, particularly among those already at a heightened risk.

What is canagliflozin?

Canagliflozin is a type 2 diabetes medication taken orally. It belongs to a class of drugs known as sodium-glucose co-transporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitors. SGLT2 inhibitors work by inhibiting the SGLT2 protein in the kidneys which leads to excretion of excess glucose in the urine helping to lower blood sugar levels in the body.

Common side effects of canagliflozin include urinary tract infections, increased urination, yeast infections, and thirst.

Canagliflozin is marketed under the brand name Invokana in many countries.

Harvard Medical School’s Hutter Family Professor of Medicine, Dr. James Januzzi, stated: “Elevated counts of these biomarkers are alarming signs of heart and kidney issues. Our findings reveal that canagliflozin, a sodium glucose co-transporter 2 inhibitor, not only reduces these biomarker levels but also mitigates the chance of heart-related hospitalisations for those most susceptible.”

Clinicians frequently rely on blood tests to gauge biomarkers, enabling them to identify, diagnose, or address certain medical conditions.

Predicting emergence and progression of chronic kidney and heart diseases

Historical data indicates that certain biomarker levels can forecast the emergence and progression of both chronic kidney and heart diseases in type 2 diabetes patients.

Researchers analysed blood samples from 2,627 participants of the US-based Canagliflozin and Renal Events in Diabetes with Established Nephropathy Clinical Evaluation (Credence) trial and scrutinised the impact of canagliflozin on these biomarkers at the onset, after 1 year, and again after 3 years.

Published in the journal Circulation, the results showed that higher initial biomarker levels provided a clear indication of the impending severity of an individual’s heart and kidney concerns.

One and three years into the study, those on canagliflozin showed reduced biomarker levels compared to their placebo-receiving counterparts.

Notably, after the first year, biomarker levels in the canagliflozin group increased between 3% and 10%, while those not on the drug experienced an increase ranging from 6% to 29%.

Dr. Januzzi commented: “It’s heartening to see canagliflozin most beneficial for those at maximum risk of complications. We need further research to comprehend how type 2 diabetes, coupled with kidney ailments, evolves and intensifies.”

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