Diabetes Drugs Associated with Heart Disease

One common debate is whether diabetes medications increase the risk of heart disease. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires oral diabetes medicines to carry a warning regarding increased risk of heart attack.

Several studies have associated a diabetes drug, Rosiglitazone, with cardiovascular mortality and morbidity. Rosiglitazone belongs to a class of anti-diabetic drugs knows as thiazolidinediones. The generic name of Rosiglitazone is Avandia. It is often referred to as an insulin sensitizer and used to treat people suffering from type 2 diabetes.

Studies Suggest Avandia Poses a Higher Risk of Heart Ailments

According to two extensive studies published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, patients who consume Avandia face a higher risk of developing fatal heart ailments.

The study conducted by Dr. David Graham, the associate director of the FDA, examined the data collected from over 220,000 elderly diabetics in a Medicare health insurance program who were either on Avandia or other diabetes treatment. The study found that patients on Avandia face an increased risk of stroke, heart failure and death, as compared to those not consuming the drug.

The other study headed by Dr. Steven Nissen, chairman of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic in 2007 raised public concern about the adverse cardiovascular outcomes of Avandia. The researchers performed a meta-analysis of the data collected from 56 different studies. They compared data from 35,000 patients on diabetes treatment. It was found that patients consuming Avandia faced 33 percent more risk of having a heart attack as compared to patients on other treatments. Also, Avandia was associated with increased risk of myocardial infarction and death from cardiovascular ailments.

Some of the other side effects of Avandia are upper respiratory tract infection, back pain, headache, fatigue, sinusitis, hypoglycemia, diarrhea and edema.

Do Diabetes Drugs Increase Risk of Cancer?

Conventional drug treatment for diabetes does not have a good track record. Prescription drugs have various side effects and are associated with severe health complications. Several researches have revealed that long-term use of some common diabetes drugs can increase the risk of cancer.

Oral Diabetes Medication May Raise Cancer Risk

An analysis of five-year data collected from an ongoing 10-year study, conducted by Takeda Pharmaceuticals, showed a link between the common anti-diabetes drug Actos and increased risk of bladder cancer. Actos is an oral prescription medication that is used for treating type 2 diabetes mellitus. The generic name of the drug is pioglitazone. It belongs to the class of drug called peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) agonists.

The observational cohort study was conducted on 193,000 diabetics associated with the Kaiser Permanente Northern California health plan. The data was collected between January 1, 1997 and April 20, 2008. Higher incidents of bladder cancer were observed among patients who received pioglitazone for at least 2 years, as compared to those on other medication. Also, the diabetics with longest exposure to the drug and those with the highest cumulative dose experienced higher risk of bladder cancer.

Another study, conducted by Larry L. Hillblom Islet Research Centre at UCLA, associated a diabetes drug, sitagliptin with increased risk of pancreatic cancer and pancreatitis. Sitagliptin is used to treat type 2 diabetes. The study was conducted on 40 human IAPP transgenic (HIP) rats. Both sitagliptin and metformin were given to the rats for 12 weeks. The researchers found that some rats had exceptionally high rates of cell production in the pancreatic ducts. Few rats developed a condition known as ductal metaplasia and pancreatitis.

A few other studies conducted on animals have linked Victoza, another anti-diabetic drug, with increased risk of thyroid cancer.
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