Diabetes Drug Not Found to Increase Heart Failure Risk

Incretin-based drugs help type 2 diabetes patients reduce blood sugar.

Incretin-based drugs that treat type 2 diabetes do not increase the risk of heart failure, a recent study found.

During previous a clinical trial, flags were raised when participants had an increased risk of heart failure. However, subsequent clinical trials did not produce these results, revealing inconsistencies in the trial’s findings.

Incretin-based drugs are used by approximately 12% of type 2 diabetes patients to help reduce blood sugar.

"Clinical trials have provided inconsistent findings regarding the risk of heart failure with these drugs," said lead study author Dr. Kristian B. Filion, an epidemiologist at the Lady Davis Institute at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal and assistant professor of Medicine at McGill University. "By using health records from multiple Canadian provinces, the United States, and the United Kingdom, we were able to study this potential drug safety issue in a large number of patients seen in a real world setting."

The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, used administrative electronic health records for more than 1.4 million patients in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Researchers wanted to examine the relationship between the use of incretin-based drugs and patients who are hospitalized for heart failure.

“There have been concerns of the potential risk of heart failure caused by this new class of diabetes medication,” said study co-author Jacob Udell, MD. “Our study showed, when added on top of the standard of care in the real world, that these new sugar lowering drugs do not raise the risk of heart failure compared with other options in our medicine cabinet. This is reassuring news for the millions of patients with diabetes at risk for heart disease we see every day who need blood sugar control.”