Diabetes Treatments May Reduce Heart Disease Risk
Diabetes treatments may also protect people from heart disease, according to a new study.
Researchers found two treatments that slow the development of diabetes also reduce patients' risk of heart disease.
The latest study looked at how making intensive lifestyle changes or taking the medication metformin affected cholesterol and triglyceride levels. The findings revealed that both treatments triggered positive changes in the level of particles that carry cholesterol and triglycerides through the blood stream. Researchers said these changes could lower the risk of harmful plague building up in blood vessels.
"Cardiovascular disease is the most significant cause of death and disability in people with diabetes," lead author, Ronald Goldberg, MD, of the University of Miami's Miller School of Medicine, said in a news release. "Our findings demonstrate that the same therapies used to slow the onset of diabetes also may help allay the risk of heart disease."
The latest study involved 1,645 people with impaired glucose tolerance. Participants were assigned to one of three groups. Participants in the first group were given the medication metformin. The second group took a placebo and the third group underwent an intensive lifestyle modification program.
After comparing participants' blood samples from the start of the study to samples taken a year later, they found that participants in the third group had lower levels of triglycerides and the particles that carry this kind of fat in the blood after taking part in the lifestyle modification program.
Researchers found that both the metformin and lifestyle interventions were linked to reductions in the number of small low-density lipoprotein (LDL) particles and increases in high-density lipoproteins (HDL). Researchers explain that LDL or "bad cholesterol" contributes to plaque formation and HDL or "good cholesterol" reduces heart disease risk.
"Preventing or slowing the development of diabetes with these treatments also improves the cholesterol and triglyceride profile of a person's blood," Goldberg said. "Thanks to the added benefits of existing diabetes interventions, we stand a better chance of lowering the risk of heart disease in this patient population."