Diabetes Drug Can Prevent Stroke and Heart Attack

A drug used to treat type 2 diabetes could help to prevent recurrent stroke and heart attacks in people who have insulin resistance but not diabetes, according to a new study.

Pioglitazone targets cell metabolism, and it could represent a new method for preventing cardiovascular events in high-risk patients - even before diabetes develops.

"This study represents a novel approach to prevent recurrent vascular events by reversing a specific metabolic abnormality thought to increase the risk for future heart attack or stroke," said Dr. Walter J. Koroshetz, study author and director of the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

50 percent reduction in diabetes risk

The study included 3,000 patients from seven countries who had experienced stroke or heart attack within the previous six months. Participants were randomized to take either pioglitazone or a placebo for up to five years, along with their standard care.

In patients taking pioglitazone, stroke or heart attack occurred in about 9 percent of participants, while 11.8 percent of patients taking a placebo experienced these events. Based on the results, 28 strokes or heart attacks could be prevented in every 1,000 patients who take pioglitazone, the authors reported.

The study also found that pioglitazone could reduce risk of diabetes by 52 percent.

"More research is needed to determine the mechanisms by which pioglitazone decreases risk for stroke and heart attack and increases bone fracture risk," said lead author Dr. Walter N. Kernan, "with the hope of developing strategies that maximize benefit and minimize serious side effects in our patients."

Source: National Institutes of Health
Image courtesy of everydayplus/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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