Anti-diabetes drug also 'lessens kidney, heart disease' risk

Faith Castro
June 13, 2017

"Type 2 diabetes is growing rapidly all over the world and we need drugs that not only deal with glucose levels, but also protect many millions of people from the very real risks of stroke and heart attack".

Karen Addington, UK Chief Executive of the type 1 diabetes charity JDRF, which funded the study, said: "People with type 1 diabetes are living longer, healthier lives than ever before".

Canagliflozin, also known by the name, SGLT2 inhibitor, is a comparatively a novel variety of drug that functions by inhibiting the body's reabsorption of sugar or glucose.

Researchers believe this points to a stronger case for using metformin more widely as a long-term strategy to reduce heart disease risk. This causes in more glucose being released in the urine which thereby reduces the glucose levels of blood.

It reduced the risk of such diseases by 14 percent and also reduced the risk of heart failure hospitalisation by 33 percent.

"We found it also reduced blood pressure and led to weight loss", he says.

The drug is already used as an cheap first-line treatment for type 2 diabetes. A 40 percent drop in kidney decline was also noticed.

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Invokana study lead investigator Bruce Neal, from George Institute for Global Health in Sydney, Australia, and colleagues argued that the results of the study showed Invokana has clear benefit compared with current diabetes treatments despite the amputation risks.

However, the researchers also found that patients who took the drug were twice as likely to suffer from amputations.

Scientists are not yet sure why these drugs could prevent cardiovascular disease.

Professor Neal said: 'We don't know why there was an increased risk of amputation, and further work is needed in this area. Hence, clinicians should be cautious about prescribing this drug to those who are at a high risk of amputation.

The conclusions were drawn over three years, using annual ultrasound scans to measure thickening in the large blood vessels (carotid arteries) as a marker of heart disease; and looking at important positive secondary outcomes related to weight, insulin dose and cholesterol levels.

The George Institute for Global Health conducts clinical, population and health system research aimed at changing health practice and policy worldwide. Its research has resulted in changes to medical guidelines and ways of thinking about some of the most common medical treatments around the world.

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