How do heart attack survivors respond to Metformin?
Cardio-vascular diseases are a reason behind more than half of all deaths in diabetic patients. Heart attacks – fatal and not fatal – are fairly common in diabetics. Metformin, a common drug for type 2 diabetes, has been shown to be very effective not only in preventing the development of heart disease but also after a heart attack has already occurred in diabetic patients.
A study conducted in the Cardiology Unit of the Department of Medicine, Karolinska Institute in Sweden involved a group of researchers that aimed to discover how heart attack survivors that were diagnosed with diabetes respond to different types of treatments, including metformin. In February 2011, the results of their findings were published in a journal named Diabetologia.
The subject of the study were 1,145 patients that were diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes and had also suffered and survived a heart attack. These patients were divided into three different groups.
- The first group was administered with insulin
- The second group was administered with metformin along with conventional treatment
- The third group was only provided with conventional treatment for 2.1 years
All of the patients were monitored for an average of 4.1 years. The study indicated 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 was administered with Metformin both had low risks in death from heart attack and from cancer compared to the other patients from the other groups.
A more recent set of studies researched the mechanisms by which metformin is able to curb heart disease and help patients heal after heart attacks. The scientists from Newcastle University, Saudi Arabia, were able to create a model of a heart attack in the lab conditions. They were able to monitor the formation of the new blood vessels which is essential for the recovery after heart attack. They were also able to see that metformin enhanced the process of those blood vessels formation. Metformin has been shown to be able to lower blood glucose in the heart attack model, which is one of the factors that hinders new vessel formation. Metformin also was shown to activate a set of genes that help strengthen the new vessels and thus lead to a faster and more effective recovery.
This outcome is very promising not only in terms of using metformin to help diabetic patients who have survived heart attacks but also in developing new drugs aimed specifically at healing after heart attacks in a wider population.
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 development of Type 2 Diabetes for pre-diabetic patients. A Canadian study showed that the use of both Avandia and Metformin helped decrease the risk of diabetes in pre-diabetic volunteers.
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