Common diabetes drug ‘can cut risk of heart failure death by more than 25%’

A common diabetes medication can be used to treat patients with heart failure, according to new research.

Scientists have found dapagliflozin – a drug that helps control blood sugar levels – can also reduce the risk of cardiovascular conditions worsening or causing death by more than 25%.

The medicine also cut the chances of death from any cause by 17% in patients with established heart failure and hospital admission with worsening heart failure by 30%.

John McMurray, professor of cardiology at the University of Glasgow, said: “These are really once in a lifetime findings that show that a commonly prescribed drug for diabetes can effectively be used to treat people with heart failure.

“Probably the most important finding of all is that dapagliflozin was associated with benefit in patients without diabetes.

“With dapagliflozin, we did the three things you want to do for the patient in the ideal world – make them feel better, keep them out of hospital and keep them alive. That’s why we’re so delighted with the results.”

Dapagliflozin is known to effectively treat diabetes and also reduce the risk of these patients developing heart failure – a very common complication of type 2 diabetes.

In this study, researchers wanted to find out whether the same medication could effectively treat patients already diagnosed with heart failure, whether they had the condition or not.

The trial looked at 4,744 patients from 20 countries around the world.

Researchers then measured the effectiveness of the drug against a placebo.

Around half the patients enrolled in the trial did not have diabetes.

The British Heart Foundation welcomed the findings.

Professor Sir Nilesh Samani, medical director at the foundation, said: “Heart failure is a devastating, incurable illness that affects just under a million people across the UK. Despite advances in treatment, it carries a prognosis worse than many cancers.

“This remarkable study shows that a drug originally developed to treat diabetes improves survival for people with heart failure – regardless of whether they have diabetes or not. These findings are welcome news.”

Copyright (c) PA Media Ltd. 2019, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Peter Byrne / PA Wire.