Certain diabetes drugs might also protect from heart failure

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
A certain class of diabetes drug might also offer heart protection

If you are diabetic, a study shows one class of medications might also protect the heart. Findings from researchers suggest a class of medicines known as GLP-1 antagonists may stave off heart failure that is an extra risk for those with diabetes.

The study that comes from Henry Ford Hospital System found lower rates of hospitalization for heart failure for people taking the drug.

GLP-1 (glucagon like peptide 1) drugs are fairly new. An example is the drug Byetta.

The drugs work by slowing glucose absorption in the gut. They are also associated with weight loss because they help decrease appetite through their effect on the hypothalamus, the appetite center of the brain.

Lower hospitalizations for heart failure with class of diabetes drugs

Henry Ford researcher and cardiologist David Lanfear, M.D., lead author of the study said in a press release, "Diabetic adults die of heart disease two to four times more than those without diabetes.”


You can cut your heart risks by eating a healthy diet, keeping blood sugar levels under control, taking recommended preventive medication therapies prescribed by your doctor, exercising regularly and remaining proactive with recommended heart screening tests.

The new study suggests another way to help stave off diabetic heart disease that may be worth discussion with your health care provider.

There were nearly two million new cases of diabetes diagnosed in the U.S. in 2010, according to the American Diabetes Association. Deaths from the disease are higher than non-diabetics because of complications.

For their investigation, the researchers looked at 4,427 diabetic patients who were taking medications to lower blood sugar at Henry Ford Hospital between January 1, 2000 and July 1, 2012; 1,488 were taking GLP-1 medications.

After adjusting for other factors including length of diabetes, age, gender, race and other anti-diabetic medications, the researchers found fewer hospitalizations for heart failure or any other reason associated with the GLP-1 medications.

If you are taking the medications, the news is good. You may want to ask your doctor if the anti-diabetic drugs would be beneficial if you are at risk for heart failure that is measured by a number of factors, including family history.

Before deciding on any change of therapy, discuss the risks, benefits and costs with your doctor. The findings are also not conclusive. Lanfear says more studies are needed to confirm the findings that GLP-1 medications can help prevent heart failure among diabetics.

Henry Ford Health System