Studies Show Diabetes Medication Reduces Risk of Heart Attack as Well

Every 80 seconds, an American with diabetes is hospitalized for heart disease, and every two minutes a diabetic adult is hospitalized for a stroke. But new studies show that medicine used to treat diabetes also lowers the risk of a heart attack, stroke, or death from either one. Patients with diabetes are twice as likely to die from heart disease, but research is showing how diabetes medication can reduce that risk.

The American Diabetes Association says the disease affects 11.8 percent of Americans, as more than 30 million are diabetic, with another 85 million have above normal blood sugar and have more than a 50 percent chance of developing type 2 diabetes if they don’t make changes to their lifestyle. The ADA says that diabetes costs the U.S. $327 billion a year. At Parkland hospital alone, 39,000 patients have diabetes.

Medications for adults with type 2 diabetes have shown over the course of 10 years of testing to reduce the risk of cardiovascular death or adverse cardiovascular events. The medications prevent excess fluid build up in the body and keep blood sugar levels normal, reducing the risk of heart failure. The medications are called empagliflozin, canagliflozin, and liraglutide.

“This is tremendous news that still has barely reached the public and the primary care environment, despite the potential impact on reducing mortality and disease burden. The potential benefits to patients are undeniable,” said Luigi Meneghini, MD, endocrinologist and Executive Director of the Global Diabetes Program at Parkland, and Professor of Internal Medicine at UT Southwestern Medical Center via release. .
 
“The most common cause of death for adults with diabetes is heart attack or stroke. The discovery that these diabetes drugs can reduce the risk of a cardiovascular event, especially in those patients at the highest risk, will have a significant impact on public health and on the quality of life and longevity of millions of people like Teresa,” Dr. Meneghini said via release.