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Certain Diabetes Medications May Lower Heart Failure Risk
Date:3/10/2013

low-up period, patients taking GLP-1 medications were 41 percent less likely than others to be hospitalized with heart failure. Additionally, these patients were 44 percent less likely to be hospitalized for any reason, and 80 percent less likely to die of any cause.

But neither Lanfear nor a doctor not involved with the research could point to reasons why this newer class of diabetes drugs seems to dampen the risk of heart failure.

"We don't know the mechanism yet. It's under active investigation," Lanfear said. "There are clues, but they would be a guess."

Lanfear noted that of the total 20,000 patients at Henry Ford Hospital identified as taking diabetes drugs during the study period, only about 1,500 were taking GLP-1 medications, or about 7 percent.

"We were surprised a little bit by the strength of the association [between the GLP-1 drugs and lower heart failure], but the results still need to be confirmed by other studies," he said. "We can't take this as an endorsement of these drugs."

Calling the study promising, Dr. David Friedman, chief of heart failure services at North Shore-LIJ's Plainview Hospital in Plainview, N.Y., said future research should be prospective instead of analyzing past data.

"Heart failure is a huge problem among diabetics. Every year, there are about a half-million new heart failure patients, and a tremendous portion are those who've survived heart attacks and a fair number have diabetes," Friedman said.

"With diabetes and obesity issues constantly on the radar now, and with the onset of more heart failure cases, we need to find more novel approaches," he added. "If we can improve outcomes in this way, we'll have more hope for these patients."

More information

The U.S. National Institutes of Health offers more information on heart failure.

SOURCES: David L
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