A recent study from the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute has discovered a potential method to prevent severe events, such as heart attacks or death, in diabetic patients at high risk of serious heart disease.
For the first time, researchers found that the SGLT2 inhibitor dapagliflozin might stabilize vulnerable plaque in patients with diabetes, preventing plaque rupture and subsequent heart attacks.
Diabetes and Heart Disease
The strong links between diabetes and heart disease are well-documented. Diabetes is known to accelerate atherosclerosis (the build-up of fats in arteries) and increase plaque instability, which can lead to plaque rupture and heart attacks.
This connection is so strong that accelerated coronary artery disease in diabetic patients has become the leading cause of premature mortality and increased morbidity worldwide.
The Role of Dapagliflozin
In their study, the research team provided further rationale for the use of dapagliflozin—the first of this novel class of glucose-lowering drugs available in Australia—by health specialists, including GPs, endocrinologists, and cardiologists. T
he paper provides proof-of-concept to test the plaque-stabilizing capability of this medication and other anti-diabetic drugs.
The effects on plaque stability demonstrated in this study with dapagliflozin could, at least in part, explain the reduction of cardiovascular events seen in diabetic patients treated with this medication.
Amid the significant unmet need concerning diabetes-accelerated atherosclerosis and the identification of novel therapeutic targets and strategies, this study contributes to the global interest in this new class of medications.
Future Clinical Trials
While SGLT2 inhibitors have emerged as a new therapeutic class for lowering blood sugar, several clinical studies have found that the efficacy of the glucose-lowering effect of SGLT2 inhibitors is linked to improved heart outcomes.
The research team suggests further clinical trials are necessary to test this medication’s efficacy concerning plaque stability.
However, the results are promising and reinforce the observed heart benefits beyond glucose control.
The study, conducted by Dr. Yung-Chih Chen and colleagues, has been published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
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