We have previously written about the multiple health benefits of metformin (brand name Glucophage and others), an oral drug used to treat Type 2 diabetes: Beyond controlling blood glucose levels, this medicine has been linked to a decreased risk of death in people with Type 2, a lowered cancer risk, and possibly an increased life span.
Now, a new study in rats suggests that there may be even more good news about metformin, this time in the area of heart health. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for people with diabetes.
Researchers at the University of Gothenburg Sahlgrenska Academy in Sweden assigned rats with high blood pressure and insulin resistance to receive either 100 milligrams per kilogram of body weight per day of metformin, 2 milligrams per kilogram per day of rosiglitazone (Avandia), or no drug over the course of 12 months. (Ten rats without health conditions served as a control group.)
At the end of the study period, the researchers found that the rats treated with metformin had improved heart pumping capacity, improved heart efficiency (defined by a greater ability to convert energy into mechanical work), lowered fat accumulation in the heart, and a reduced loss of heart cells. Rosiglitazone did not have any positive effects on heart health.
“The animals in our study were treated with metformin for a whole year, so the effect seems to persist,” noted lead researcher Jörgen Isgaard.
For more information, see the article “Diabetes Drug Can Prevent Heart Disease, New Study Suggests,” or see the study’s abstract from the journal Diabetes.
This blog entry was written by Web Editor Diane Fennell.