Insulin resistance is a recently identified mechanism involved in the pathophysiology of chronic heart failure (CHF).
Researchers at the University of Gothenburg's Sahlgrenska Academy have shown in a preliminary study in rats that one of the most common diabetes drugs, metformin (Diabetmin, Glucophage, Glucomet), also has a protective effect on the heart.
The study, carried out in collaboration with a research group from Naples, reveals that metformin helps increase pumping capacity, improves energy balance, reduces the accumulation of fat, and limit the loss of heart cells through programmed cell death.
Long term effect
The results were compared with animals treated with another diabetes drug, which proved to have no positive effects on the heart.
“The animals in our study were treated with metformin for a whole year, so the effect seems to persist,” says Jörgen Isgaard, the researcher at the Sahlgrenska Academy who led the Swedish research group involved in the study.
New study on patients
Diabetes drugs have proved to have a number of serious side-effects for people with heart disease. Rosiglitazone, for example, was recently withdrawn due to its cardiac side-effects. Metformin too can occasionally have side-effects, primarily in patients with kidney failure.
“Our results nevertheless strengthen the indication for metformin as a diabetes medicine, and we hope that they are now followed up with studies on actual patients,” says Isgaard.
The above story is based on the March 25, 2012 news release by University of Gothenburg.
The research is published in Diabetes, the Journal of the American Diabetes Association: A. Cittadini, R. Napoli, M. G. Monti, D. Rea, S. Longobardi, P. A. Netti, M. Walser, M. Sama, G. Aimaretti, J. Isgaard, L. Sacca. Metformin Prevents the Development of Chronic Heart Failure in the SHHF Rat Model. Diabetes, 2012; 61 (4): 944 DOI: 10.2337/db11-1132