How to prevent heart attacks in people with diabetes

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A recent study from the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute and elsewhere found how to prevent serious events like a heart attack or death in diabetic patients at high risk of serious heart disease events.

They found for the first time, the potential of the SGLT2 inhibitor dapagliflozin to stabilize vulnerable plaque in patients with diabetes to prevent plaque rupture and a heart attack.

The chilling links between diabetes and heart disease are clear.

Diabetes is known to accelerate atherosclerosis (the build-up of fats in the artery) and increase plaque instability, which can lead to plaque rupture and heart attack, so much so that accelerated coronary artery disease in diabetic patients has become the leading cause of premature mortality and increased morbidity worldwide.

In the study, the team provides further rationale for the use of dapagliflozin—the first of this novel class of glucose-lowering drugs to be made available in Australia—by health specialists including GPs, endocrinologists and cardiologists.

Importantly, the paper provides proof-of-concept to test the plaque-stabilizing capability of this medication and other anti-diabetic drugs.

The team says the effects on plaque stability demonstrated in this study with dapagliflozin could explain, at least in part, the reduction of cardiovascular events seen in diabetic patients treated with this medication.

With a significant unmet need around diabetes-accelerated atherosclerosis and the identification of novel therapeutic targets and strategies, this latest study comes amid strong global interest in this new class of medications.

While SGLT2 inhibitors have emerged as a new therapeutic class for lowering blood sugar, several clinical studies have found the efficacy of the glucose-lowering effect of SGLT2 inhibitors is linked to improved heart outcomes.

The team says further clinical trials are needed to test the efficacy of this medication with regard to plaque stability.

But the results are very promising and give weight to the heart benefits being seen beyond glucose control.

The study was conducted by Dr. Yung-Chih Chen et al and published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

If you care about diabetes, please read studies about diets that could help prevent type 2 diabetes, and Vitamin C may benefit people with diabetes.

For more information about heart health, please see recent studies about coconut sugar that could help reduce blood pressure, and results showing vitamin B6 may help lower heart disease risk in diabetes.

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