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Longevity Briefs: Diabetes Drug Found to Reduce the Risk of Heart Failure & Strokes

Posted on 23 August 2021

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Longevity briefs provides a short summary of novel research in biology, medicine, or biotechnology that caught the attention of our researchers in Oxford, due to its potential to improve our health, wellbeing, and longevity.

Why is this research important: In a recent meta-analysis, it was revealed that SGLT-2 inhibitors, a drug commonly used to treat diabetes, significantly reduced the risk of death caused by cerebro- and cardio-vascular disease, such as strokes and heart failure. 

But, what are SGLT-2 inhibitors?

In diabetics, glucose in the bloodstream is readily taken up from the blood by cells in the kidneys, causing chronic hyperglycaemia. SGLT-2 are proteins which aid this process, facilitating the transport of glucose from the blood into the kidney. As their name suggests, SGLT-2 inhibitors inhibitor, or stop, this process. Glucose is therefore unable to be transported into the kidney cell, and the excess glucose is removed from the body in urea, helping to maintain normal blood glucose levels.

Watch this amazing short video explaining SGLT-2 inhibitors mechanism of action from Dr. Rakesh’s Pharmacology Update.

What did the researchers do: SGLT-2 inhibitors proposed a promising intervention for a number of reasons: 

1. They have already been used to treat diabetes for a number of years, and therefore boast a robust safety profile

2. A number of independent studies have shown that SGLT-2 inhibitors have a positive impact on the risk of mortality 

3. It has been estimated that patients with type 2 diabetes are at a 2-3 times higher risk of heart disease than normal

Given this information, a group of Italian scientists carried out a deep dive into the impact of SGLT-2 inhibitors on cardio- and cerebro-vascular risk, in diabetics.

Key takeaway(s) from this research: The scientists found that the use of SGLT-2 inhibitors was associated with a reduced risk of cerebrovascular outcomes (strokes), cardiovascular disease (heart failure), and also, overall mortality. It was proposed that these may be due to SGLT-2 inhibitors ability to reduce blood pressure and improve glucose induced inflammation and stress, which leads to vascular dysfunction.

The study supports the recommendation in the field to prioritise the use of SGLT-2 inhibitors with type 2 diabetes, however, the authors stress that more studies are needed to determine the precise impact of the drug on different subpopulations.

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