This diabetes drug could revolutionize heart failure treatment

In a new study from the University of East Anglia, researchers found a medication originally used for patients with diabetes is the first to help people with heart failure and could revolutionize treatment.

They found that Sodium-glucose co-transporter-2 (SGLT2) inhibitors could be beneficial for heart failure patients—including those with the second type of heart failure called the preserved ejection fraction.

It is the first drug to provide a real benefit in terms of improving outcomes for these patients.

Heart failure is a condition where the heart is not pumping as well as it should, and it affects about one million people in the UK.

There are two types of heart failure. Heart Failure with a reduction in ejection fraction happens when the heart is unable to pump blood around 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.

For many years there was not a single medicine that could improve the outcome in patients with the second type of heart failure—those patients with preserved ejection fraction.

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.

In the study, the team found that it can also help heart failure patients with preserved ejection fraction.

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

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

They found that patients taking SGLT2 inhibitors were 22% less likely to die from heart-related causes or be hospitalized for heart failure exacerbation than those taking placebo.

This is the first medication that can provide a benefit to this previously untreatable group of patients—in terms of heart-related deaths or hospitalization.

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The study is published in European Journal of Preventive Cardiology. One author of the study is Prof Vass Vassiliou.

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