News Feature | April 1, 2014

Study Shows Diabetes Drug Does Not Prevent Heart Failure

By Marcus Johnson

A new study performed on the diabetes drug metformin has shown that the drug does not help prevent heart failure in non-diabetics who've already had a heart attack. This new information is in dispute with results gleaned from previous studies that showed metformin could protect the heart.

Dr. Chris Lexis, the head of the study from University Medical Center Groningen in the Netherlands, said, “While this glucose-lowering drug is very effective in patients with diabetes and can be safely used in patients with a heart attack, [our data show] it is not of additional benefit in protecting the heart from damage resulting in decreased pump function of the heart,” said Lexis.

In the study, researchers examined whether four months of treatment with the metformin drug would help prevent heart failure and preserve current heart function. The study included 380 patients that were heart attack survivors. Researchers randomly assigned patients metformin treatment (500 milligrams twice a day) or a placebo. None of the patients involved in the study had been diagnosed as diabetic. After four months, the patients underwent MRIs in order to assess their left ventricle function.

According to Lexis, “This study did not prove the benefits of metformin in acute myocardial infarction [heart attack] and as such will not change clinical practice as we might have thought.” This is not to say that the treatment does not have its benefits. As Lexis says, “It is noteworthy that metformin started early after heart attack did not adversely affect kidney function and was well-tolerated,” Lexis said. “So our findings do not preclude the use of metformin to treat diabetes in this setting.”

This preliminary research is currently unpublished in a peer-reviewed journal.