Often, people who have Type 2 diabetes are at an increased risk for cardiovascular disease. This is because they are usually overwight or obese, and have high blood pressure and cholesterol levels. New research has found that patients with both conditions require different treatments to those who have just one, and that there are several new drugs able to successfully treat both conditions together.
“Recent scientific studies have shown that people with T2D may need more aggressive or different medical and surgical treatments compared to people with CAD who do not have T2D." says Suzanne V. Arnold, associate professor of medicine at the University of Missouri Kansas City.
Currently, Metformin is the most frequently recommended treatment to lower blood sugar levels in people with Type 2 diabetes. While it can lead to mild weight loss, has seemingly no effect on the cardiovascular system and is generally considered safe to use, new medications may be better able to both reduce blood sugar levels and the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
A recent study looking at sodium-glucose cotransporter inhibitors (SGLT2 inhibitors) found that the drug not only reduces blood sugar levels, but also a person’s chances of dying from cardiovascular disease. In particular, it was found that the drug reduced patient’s risk of developing heart failure, slowed the progression of chronic kidney disease and helped them lose weight.
Glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists (GLP-1 receptor agonists) have also shown some promise. An injectable medication that both lowers blood sugar levels and can lead to weight loss, a recent study had mixed results on its ability to reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. The drug has however been shown to reduce the risk of major cardiovascular events including heart attacks and strokes.
Researchers also found that patients with Type 2 diabetes and coronary artery disease (CAD) who undergo coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery to widen narrowed blood vessels have a reduced risk of dying within 5 years and having a heart attack or recurrent angina than if they were treated with angioplasty or stenting. Meanwhile, for those who only have CAD, the advantage of having a bypass over stenting was not so dramatic.