Researchers make new discovery in treating diabetics with heart disease

by Barbara Hewitt on December 15, 2015

Researchers have discovered a so called ‘sweet spot’ in the treatment of diabetes among patients with heart failure.

Diabetes and heart disease are frequently seen together in patients and can be a lethal combination. To compound the problem, some anti-diabetic medications have been shown to worsen heart conditions like heart failure, a condition where the heart muscles become too weak to effectively pump blood around the body.

Heart TreatmentNow researchers, led by Professor Chim Lang in the School of Medicine at Dundee University in Scotland, have found there are hazardous effects of under or over treating diabetes among those patients with heart failure, with a ‘sweet spot’ in between where treatment can be beneficial.

“Clinicians have always struggled with how aggressively to treat diabetes in patients with heart failure. Our team has now shown the dangers of not getting the balance right as well as which drugs are safer than others. This work will undoubtedly help guide the treatment of diabetes in patients with heart disease,” said Lang. “We have already seen recent recommendations by the American Diabetes Association to treat elderly diabetic patients less aggressively. Our research suggests this advice should be extended to those patients who suffer with heart failure.”

Professor Lang and his team observed the records of nearly 1,500 patients between 1993 and 2010 and found increasing risk of premature death in patients whose blood sugar levels were outside of the ‘sweet spot’ range.

This latter finding had led to a new research study with Professor Lang and his team set to explore the potential beneficial cardiac effects of diabetic therapies.

His team was recently awarded a research grant worth €280,000 by the European Foundation for the Study of Diabetes to set up the REFORM Trial that will study the cardiovascular effects of SGLT2 inhibitors on patients with diabetes and heart failure.

“We are the first in the world to pioneer this research which could potentially see this drug treating both diabetes and heart failure simultaneously,” said Lang.

Using state of the art MRI technology and detailed cardio-pulmonary exercise testing should determine the exact effect of SGLT2 inhibitor therapy on the cardiovascular system, according to Dr Jagdeep Singh who is a Clinical Research Fellow in Professor Lang’s team and the Principal Investigator of the REFORM Trial.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

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