Nov 252011

How Does Heart Attack Survivors Respond to Taking Metformin?

A study was made in the Cardiology Unit of the Department of Medicine, Karolinska Institute in Sweden, which involved a group of researchers that aimed to discover how heart attack survivors that were diagnosed with diabetes respond to different types of treatments. On February 2011, the results of their findings were published in a journal named Diabetologia.

Included in the study were 1,145 patients that were diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes and had also suffered and survived a heart attack. These patients where divided into three different groups.

  1. The first group where administered with insulin
  2. The second group where administered with insulin along with conventional treatment
  3. The third group were only provided with conventional treatment for 2.1 years

All of the patients were monitored at an average of 4.1 years. The study showed that the number of fatal heart attacks during the monitoring period was the same in the three groups. However, non-fatal heart attack rates differed. The highest rate of heart attacks that were non-fatal was in the group treated with insulin. The group who received conventional treatment had the lowest risk in death from cancer while the group that were administered with Metformin both had low risks in death from heart attack and from cancer compared to the other patients from the other groups.

Metformin, which is available in tablet form and is commonly known as Fortamet, Glucophage, or Glucophage CR is used to lower blood sugar levels. Individuals diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes commonly use it and it can also be used to prevent the acquisition of Type 2 Diabetes for those who have high risk in acquiring it. A study done in Canada shows that the use of both Avandia and Metformin helped decrease the risk of diabetes in volunteers who were pre-diabetic.

This medicine is commonly taken once, twice, or three times per day depending on your doctor’s prescription. A dosage of 500 milligrams twice per day or 850 milligrams once per day is the usual dose. Moreover, the dosage can be increased gradually mainly depending on how the blood sugar levels in the body react to the dosage.

The following effects are caused by the regular intake of Metformin:

  • The intestinal absorption of sugar is lessened
  • Insulin released by the pancreas is increased
  • Sugar production in the liver is decreased
  • Muscles and fat cells respond to insulin and efficiently take in the needed sugar.

In general, Metformin is considered safe to use, but it can also provide some side effects to someof its users. The most serious side effect that can be caused is lactic acidosis, which will have the following symptoms:

  • chills
  • cool or bluish skin
  • fatigue and muscle pains
  • dizziness , sleepiness, or nausea
  • difficulty in breathing / fast shallow breathing
  • irregular or slow heartbeats
  • pain in the abdominal area
  • diarrhoea or vomiting


Although it is a rare case, Metformin might also cause hypoglycaemia or low blood sugar. This condition often occurs when Metformin is used along other anti-diabetic drugs. Symptoms of hypoglycaemia include unexplainable hunger, tingling sensations in the hands and feet, sweating, involuntary shaking, and heartbeat.

Patients that have kidney problems should use Metformin cautiously as the body excretes it through urine. It is advised that patients, especially the elderly should first take some tests to determine their kidney functions and whether the medication is safe for use. Patients who will also undergo X-ray procedures are advised to temporarily stop taking Metformin for a few days before they undergo the X-ray scan.

 November 25, 2011  Add comments

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