Can diabetes drug treat heart failure patients?

12/2/2021
A medication originally used for patients with diabetes is the first to help people with heart failure and could revolutionise treatment, according to new research.

Early research had shown that Sodium-glucose co-transporter-2 (SGLT2) inhibitors could help around half of heart failure patients -- those with a condition known as reduction ejection fraction.

But new findings from researchers at the University of East Anglia showed that the medication could be beneficial for all heart failure patients, including those with a second type of heart failure called preserved ejection fraction.

It is the first drug to provide a real benefit in terms of improving outcomes for these patients, and will revolutionise treatment options, said the team

The study, published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, showed that patients taking SGLT2 inhibitors were 22 per cent less likely to die from heart-related causes or be hospitalised for heart failure exacerbation than those taking placebo.

Heart failure is a condition where the heart is not pumping as well as it should. There are two types of heart failure. Heart Failure with a reduction in ejection fraction happens when the heart is unable to pump blood round the body due to a mechanical issue. And heart failure with preserved ejection fraction happens when, despite the heart pumping out blood well, it is not sufficient to provide oxygen to all the parts of the body.

"One class of heart medication, called SGLT2 inhibitors, was initially used for patients with diabetes. However, it was noticed that it also helped patients who had heart failure," said lead researcher Prof Vass Vassiliou from UEA's Norwich Medical School.

"Previous studies had shown that this medication would be beneficial in heart failure with reduced ejection fraction. But we found that it can also help heart failure patients with preserved ejection fraction," Vassiliou added.

SGLT2 inhibitors are more commonly known under their trade-names Forxiga (Dapagliflozin), Invokana (Canagliflozin), and Jardiance (Empagliflozin).

The research team undertook a meta-analysis of all studies published in the field and brought together data from almost 10,000 patients. They used statistical modelling to show the specific effect of these medicines.

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