The most commonly prescribed type 2 diabetes drug, metformin, has the potential to be developed into a new treatment for heart failure, according to a study funded by the British Heart Foundation.
Research has already established that metformin can protect type 2 diabetics from cancer and cardiovascular disease, but a new study, led by Chim Lang, Professor of Cardiology at Dundee University in Scotland, shows that non-diabetics with heart failure may also benefit from the drug.
Patients with heart failure are at risk for developing diabetes because their disease can lead to fatigue and shortness of breath, which can lead to a more sedentary lifestyle. This can also lower a patient’s insulin resistance, which can also cause lethargy. Lack of exercise and healthy diet contributes to the development of type 2 diabetes.
The new research showed that metformin can help patients with heart failure exercise more and lose more weight, and may improve the performance of patients’ fat hormones.
“This is the first clinical trial that looked specifically at potential beneficial effects of metformin in pre-diabetic, heart-failure patients, and the results were promising,” Professor Lang told The Scotsman.
Metformin is often the first line of treatment for patients diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, but eventually most patients may require other medications to keep their blood sugar levels in check. In 2010, the Food and Drug Administration issued strong warnings about serious health risks with two popular type 2 diabetes drugs.
First, the FDA announced it was placing severe restrictions on Avandia after the drug was linked to fatal heart attacks. The agency also announced that Actos increased the risk for bladder cancer, especially after long-term use.