Diabetes Drug May Lower Heart Failure Risk
March 11, 2013

Use Of GLP-1 Medications Can Lower Heart Failure Risk In Diabetics

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

A class of diabetes drugs used to lower blood glucose levels could also help protect patients from developing heart failure, according to researchers affiliated with the Henry Ford Hospital.

According to Kathleen Lees of Science World Report, the retrospective study looked at more than 4,400 diabetic patients who were taking medications in order to lower their blood sugar while at the Detroit medical facility.

Of those patients, 1,488 were taking Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) drugs, including those marketed under brand-names such as Januvia, Victoza and Byetta, and 2,939 were not, Lees said.

The researchers observed the study participants for 663 days, during which time there were 281 total hospitalizations — 184 of which were due to heart failure — and 158 fatalities.

They discovered that those who were taking GLP-1 drugs were more than 40 percent less likely to be hospitalized due to heart failure than those taking other blood sugar-lowering substances, according to HealthDay News reporter Maureen Salamon. The study also found a correlation between the use of GLP1 medications and a reduced risk of hospitalization for heart failure or any other reason, as well as a lower fatality rate.

“Diabetic adults die of heart disease two to four times more than those without diabetes,” Henry Ford researcher and cardiologist David Lanfear, MD, who was the lead author of the study, said in a statement. “Our study data suggest that diabetic patients taking a particular class of medications are less likely to develop heart failure.”

“I don't think we can say this will magically prevent all heart failure deaths, but the strength of the association warrants more investigation,” he added in an interview with Salamon. “We were surprised a little bit by the strength of the association [between the GLP-1 drugs and lower heart failure], but the results still need to be confirmed by other studies. We can't take this as an endorsement of these drugs.”

The study, which was funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Henry Ford Health System, was presented Sunday at the American College of Cardiology's (ACC) annual meeting in San Francisco, California. However, according to Salamon, scientific research presented at medical conferences has typically not yet been peer-reviewed and is considered preliminary.