The prevalence of type II diabetes is becoming more common, as well as the risks of associated medical conditions like kidney disease and stroke. A new study shows that an approved and frequently prescribed drug for reducing glucose levels can also lower the risk of kidney and cardiovascular disease.
In the new study, researchers at the George Institute of Global Health in Sydney, Australia demonstrates a drug utilized only for lowering blood glucose levels in people with type II diabetes has two other very important therapeutic effects.
The findings reveal that canagliflozin is a “three in one” medicine that not only treats type II diabetes, but also appears to notably reduce the risk of kidney and cardiovascular disease or CVD in people with diabetes.
Finding new ways to combat CVD among people with diabetes is especially important due to the high prevalence of cardiovascular disease-related deaths in that population group. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), an estimated 70 percent of deaths among seniors are related to some type of cardiovascular disease.
An AHA report reads that people with diabetes are “two or four times more likely to die from some form of heart disease.”
New cases of type II diabetes are increasing at a very rapid pace all around the world, increasing the need for new drugs that lower blood glucose levels and reduce the risks of heart attack and stroke.
The research team analyzed data from over 10,000 patients from 30 different countries. The findings confirmed results of previous studies, which suggest drugs that lower blood glucose levels can decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease in individuals with diabetes.
Canagliflozin is a SGLT2 inhibitor, which works by preventing the body from reabsorbing glucose and inhibiting sodium-glucose transport protein.
That protein typically facilitates the reabsorption of sugar in the blood stream. SGLT2 inhibitors trigger the kidneys to get rid of excess glucose through urine and prevent them from reabsorbing it. Other drugs utilized to treat type II diabetes are only capable of managing insulin levels.
The findings reveal that individuals with type II diabetes taking canagliflozin had a 33 percent lower risk of being hospitalized for heart failure. Those people were also 14 percent less likely to develop cardiovascular disease and 40 percent less likely to develop “serious kidney decline.”
Additionally, the findings revealed that canagliflozin protects both people with type II diabetes and those who have already been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease.
“Both patients and physicians should be tremendously reassured by the results. What we have done is show that the earlier results were not just a one off. This really is a game changer in the treatment of type 2 diabetes. It not only reduces the risk of heart disease, [but] it also provides real protection again kidney decline, which affects many people with diabetes,” said study co-author professor Vlado Perkovic, executive director of the George Institute of Global Health.
Canagliflozin is associated with an increased risk of amputation and the researchers said, “We don’t know why there was an increased risk of amputation and further work is needed in this area. But for now, we urge caution in prescribing this drug to people at increased risk of suffering amputation.”
The study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.