-- Robert Preidt
MONDAY, Dec. 16, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Widely used diabetes
drugs have different effects on men's and women's hearts, a new
Researchers examined how three commonly prescribed treatments
for type 2 diabetes affected 78 patients who were divided into
three groups. One group took metformin alone, the second group took
metformin plus rosiglitazone (sold under the brand name Avandia)
and the third group took metformin plus Lovaza, a type of fish
Metformin reduces blood sugar production by the liver and
improves insulin sensitivity. Rosiglitazone also improves insulin
sensitivity and moves free fatty acids out of the blood. Lovaza
lowers blood levels of another type of fat called
The researchers found that the drugs had very different and
sometimes opposite effects on the hearts of men and women, even as
the drugs controlled blood sugar equally well in both genders. The
study appears in the December issue of the
American Journal of Physiology -- Heart and Circulatory
Although metformin had positive heart effects in women, it
caused the heart metabolism of men to burn less sugar and more
fats. Chronic burning of fat by the heart results in harmful
changes that can lead to heart failure, said the researchers, from
the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
"Instead of making heart metabolism more normal in men, metformin alone made it worse, looking even more like a diabetic heart," study senior author Dr. Robert Gropler said in a university news release. "But in women, metformin had the desired effect -- lowering fat metabolism and increasing glucose uptake by the heart."
Taking either rosiglitazone or Lovaza with metformin seemed to
reduce some of the negative heart effects of metformin alone in
men. Taking rosiglitazone in addition to metformin further improved
women's heart metabolism, compared to taking metformin alone.
The addition of Lovaza to metformin did not have a strong effect
either way for men or women, the researchers said.
"Our study suggests that we need to better define which therapies are optimal for women with diabetes and which ones are optimal for men," said Gropler, a professor of radiology. The study did not, however, prove a cause-and-effect link between the drug combinations and heart changes. It showed only an association.
The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney
Diseases has more about
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