Diabetes medication may protect from heart disease

Washington: Medications that help regulate blood sugar for patients with Type 2 diabetes can also protect against heart disease, suggests a recent study.

The study presented at the ‘ESC Congress 2019’ and simultaneously published in the journal ‘Cell Metabolism,’ focussed on the effect of diabetes medication – empagliflozin – on cell repair in blood vessels and the resulting risks of heart disease. Empagliflozin is a medication that falls under a category of drugs called SGLT2 inhibitors, which lower blood sugar.

The research suggested that circulating progenitor cells – which are found in the bone marrow and play a role in heart health – along with inflammatory cells, are regulated with this diabetes medication.

For patients who have diabetes and are at risk of heart disease, such medications may provide heart protection by relieving damaged cells that would otherwise perpetuate heart disease by causing faulty vessel repair.

“We have seen large-scale clinical trials giving us clear evidence that SGLT2 inhibitors can also protect our patients who have diabetes from heart disease,” said Dr. Subodh Verma, a cardiac surgeon and scientist at the Keenan Research Centre for Biomedical Science (KRCBS) of St. Michael’s Hospital.

Heart disease is a major concern for people with diabetes as they often have compromised blood vessel repair, making them more susceptible to cardiovascular issues.

The team at St. Michael’s collaborated with Dr. David Hess, an associate professor at Western University’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry and a scientist at Robarts Research Institute.

“We found that in people with diabetes, not only were beneficial progenitor cells increased but we saw indications of reduced inflammation and oxidative stress, which can also contribute to cardiovascular disease,” said Dr. Hess.

For patients with diabetes, this is an important step forward to reduce their risk of heart disease, said Dr. Verma.

The researchers said these novel findings may provide the basis for new therapies for patients who have heart disease complicated by diabetes.

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