Some diabetes medications could also protect people living with Type 2 diabetes from serious heart complications, a study has suggested.
The research, funded by the charity Diabetes UK, assessed the impact of two types of Type 2 diabetes medications, called SGLT2 inhibitors and GLP-1 receptor agonists (GLP-1s), on heart problems.
People living with diabetes have a higher risk of complications such as heart and strokes. However, some Type 2 medications that work to lower blood sugar levels can also help to lower cardiovascular risk, Diabetes UK said.
The researchers compared the risk of serious heart complications, such as heart attack or stroke, in people with Type 2 diabetes using these treatments to the risk in people using more traditional medications, such as metformin or sulphonylureas.
Diabetes and health
The researchers concluded that, compared to people with Type 2 diabetes using metformin or sulphonylureas, the risk of developing heart failure was 51% lower for people with Type 2 diabetes taking SGLT2 inhibitors.
For people taking GLP-1s, the risk was 18% lower. The risk was also 57% lower for people taking both drugs.
The risk of having a heart attack or stroke was 18% lower for people taking SGLT2 inhibitors and 7% lower for people taking GLP-1s. For those taking both drugs, the risk was again substantially reduced, by 30%.
However, the researchers pointed out that people with Type 2 diabetes are less likely to be prescribed SGLT2s or GLP-1s than more traditional Type 2 treatments (such as metformin and sulphonylureas), often because they are the more expensive option.
Professor Martin Rutter from the University of Manchester, who led the study, said:“The good news is that SGLT2 inhibitors and GLP-1 drugs not only control diabetes, but they also reduce the risk of developing serious cardiovascular events such as heart attack or stroke.
“And that could save thousands of lives every year – not to mention the avoidance of chronic illness in those who survive heart attacks and strokes,” he added.