Diabetes is one of the most common conditions in the developing world.
Because of that, many people take medications to manage their symptoms. Likewise, there’s an incredible selection of drugs to choose from.
The ultimate goal of taking these drugs is to help lower blood sugar by improving how the body’s insulin supplies uses blood sugar for energy.
Unfortunately, even though the intended effect might be accomplished by taking the drugs… the problem is in many cases there’s often an unintended and potentially fatal consequence to taking them.
Recent studies show many diabetics who take drugs to manage type 2 diabetes actually run the risk of heart failure later in life.
There was no single study to help generate this conclusion, instead, it was a comprehensive analysis of several studies covering the effectiveness and risk of diabetic drugs.
The data was gathered from more than 95,000 different patients, so there was a wide breadth of information to draw from.
Why Heart Failure Is Linked To Diabetes Medications
Heart failure is a known risk for type 2 diabetics. The inability for the body to regulate blood sugar using its own insulin actually is a leading cause for the heart to eventually fail.
The theory behind diabetic drug treatment is if you regulate blood sugar and increase insulin sensitivity, it should help to improve various other aspects of health.
Which is why it should be a cause for concern if drugs that lower blood sugar don’t correspondingly help improve.
And it would be much worse if the drugs made things worse…
But researchers are discovering both are actually true.
To arrive at their decision the researchers looked at several large, randomized controlled trials of type 2 diabetes glucose-lowering drugs or strategies that assessed cardiovascular outcomes.
“Fourteen trials involving a total of 95,502 participants matched their criteria. They pooled and analyzed the data to calculate the relative risks of heart failure posed by each of the type 2 diabetes medications or treatments.
A heart failure event occurred in 4% of patients during the individual trials they participated in, while 9.8% suffered a major cardiovascular event, such as heart attack or stroke. And there was a 14% increased risk of heart failure in patients on sugar-lowering drugs to manage diabetes.
Lead investigator Dr. Jacob Udell, of the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre at the University Health Network (UHN) and the Women’s College Hospital (WCH), both in Toronto, Canada, says they found:
“Patients randomized to new or more intensive blood sugar-lowering drugs or strategies to manage diabetes showed an overall 14% increased risk for heart failure.”
He explains that the “increased risk was directly associated with the type of diabetes therapy that was chosen, with some drugs more likely to cause heart failure than others, compared with placebo or standard care.”
They also discovered even though a person may lose weight taking diabetes drugs, it didn’t mean heart failure risk was alleviated.
Instead, for every 2.2 pounds a person lost while on diabetes drugs the risk for heart failure rose 7%.
So if that’s the case, what’s a person with diabetes to do?
The authors note that the relative increase in the risk of heart failure outweighed a 5% fall in heart attacks.
They also calculated that for around every 200 patients treated, there was one extra hospital admission for heart failure after an average follow-up of 4 years.
Dr. Barry Rubin, medical director of the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre at UHN, says:
“The results of this study could prove to be the catalyst for how diabetes patients at risk for heart disease are managed moving forward.”