SGLT2 inhibitors may reduce heart failure risk in type 2 diabetes, research shows


A class of drugs used to treat type 2 diabetes has been found to reduce the risk of heart failure, major cardiovascular events and earlier death, according to researchers.

Only an association was observed in the study, which means causality cannot be established, but the findings expand on similar insights made in 2017.

Sodium-glucose co-transporter-2 (SGLT2) inhibitors work by reducing the amount of glucose being reabsorbed into the blood within the kidneys so that it is passed out in the urine, and therefore lowering blood glucose levels.

Researchers from Sweden, Norway and Denmark wanted to explore whether the drugs had a positive effect elsewhere on people’s health.

The findings were based on drug data from more than 21,000 people with type 2 diabetes who began using SGLT2 inhibitors between April 2013 and December 2016.

The outcomes were then compared to another group of a similar size of people who had been using another diabetes drug class called DPP4 inhibitors.

At follow-up, all the people involved in the trial were monitored, regardless of whether they had finished the treatment or not.

The findings suggested that the use of SGLT2 inhibitors reduced the risk of heart failure, but not with major cardiovascular events.

In the SGLT2 inhibitor group, the risk of risk of heart failure was 34% lower in the than in the DPP4 inhibitor group. The use of SGLT2 inhibitors was also linked to a 20% lower risk of death.

“Our study suggests that there is cardiovascular benefit from SGLT2 inhibitors for a broader patient group in routine clinical care. This is an important result that we believe may be of interest to patients as well as drug authorities and doctors,” said principal investigator Björn Pasternak, associate professor at Karolinska Institutet’s Department of Medicine in Solna.

The results have been published in The BMJ.

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