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Popular diabetes drugs may revolutionise heart failure treatment

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Patients with heart failure are the first to benefit from a drug that was originally developed for diabetes patients, says new study.

Previous studies had demonstrated that Sodium-glucose co-transporter-2 (SGLT2) inhibitors could benefit around half of heart failure patients – those with a condition known as reduction ejection fraction.

However, new research published today by the University of East Anglia suggests that the medicine may be useful for all heart failure patients – including those with a second type of heart failure known as preserved ejection fraction.

It is the first treatment to demonstrate a genuine benefit in terms of improving these patients’ outcomes. And the research team asserts that it will fundamentally alter therapy possibilities.

Prof Vassiliou, lead researcher and Honorary Consultant Cardiologist at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, explained: “Heart failure is a condition where the heart is not pumping as well as it should, and it affects about one million people in the UK.

“There are two types of heart failure. Heart Failure with a reduction in ejection fraction happens when the heart is unable to pump blood round the body due to a mechanical issue. And heart failure with preserved ejection fraction happens when, despite the heart pumping out blood well, it is not sufficient to provide oxygen to all the parts of the body.

“Patients are equally split between the two types of heart failure.

“For many years there was not a single medicine that could improve the outcome in patients with the second type of heart failure – those patients with preserved ejection fraction.

“This type of heart failure had puzzled doctors, as every medicine tested showed no benefit.

“One class of heart medication, called SGLT2 inhibitors, was initially used for patients with diabetes. However, it was noticed that it also helped patients who had heart failure.

“Previous studies had shown that this medication would be beneficial in heart failure with reduced ejection fraction.

“But we found that it can also help heart failure patients with preserved ejection fraction.”

Forxiga (Dapagliflozin), Invokana (Canagliflozin), and Jardiance (Empagliflozin) are some of the more well-known SGLT2 inhibitors.

The researchers conducted a meta-analysis of all published papers in the field, compiling data from nearly 10,000 patients. To demonstrate the precise effect of these drugs, they used statistical modeling.

Prof Vassiliou added: “We found that patients taking SGLT2 inhibitors were 22 per cent less likely to die from heart-related causes or be hospitalised for heart failure exacerbation than those taking placebo.

“This is very important because this is the first medication that can provide a benefit to this previously untreatable group of patients – in terms of heart-related deaths or hospitalisation.

“This is the first medication that can really improve the outcomes for this patient group and it will revolutionise the treatment offered to heart failure patients,” he added.

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, Imperial College London and Imperial College NHS Trust, and Cambridge University Hospitals collaborated in this project, which was led by UEA researchers.

Source: UNIVERSITY OF EAST ANGLIA

Image Credit: iStock

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