THURSDAY, April 7 (HealthDay News) -- The commonly used oral diabetes drug metformin not only helps stabilize blood sugar levels, it also may offer protection against heart disease, researchers say.
In a study that included more than 100,000 residents of Denmark taking metformin or another group of oral diabetes medications called insulin secretagogues (ISs), researchers found that metformin and the IS drugs gliclazide and repaglinide had the lowest risk of cardiovascular disease and death.
"Some medications, such as metformin, gliclazide and repaglinide, are more effective in reducing cardiovascular risk than the other medications," said Dr. Tina Ken Schramm, a senior resident at Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark.
Dr. Darren McGuire, co-author of an editorial accompanying the study, agreed and said the study's findings are likely an indication that metformin, gliclazide and repaglinide are protective.
In previous research, metformin has been shown to reduce the risk of major adverse cardiac events and death by about 40 percent compared to placebo, he said. That means other drugs would have to offer a great deal of protection to compare favorably, he noted.
"If you compare a good drug against a great drug, the good drug doesn't necessarily look so good. But, if you compared the good drug to a placebo, the cardiovascular risk would probably be neutral," said McGuire, an associate professor in the division of cardiology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.
Both experts said metformin is the recommended first line of treatment for someone with type 2 diabetes, and this study's findings support that recommendation.
Results of the study were published online April 6 in the European Heart Journal.
Although insulin secretagogues are widely prescribed for type 2 diabetes -- either alone or in combination
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