Friday, May 16, 2008

Diabetics take heart

Diabetics take heart
Lee Boon Siew
KUALA LUMPUR (May 14, 2008): Diabetics who are also heart patients now have a new drug used for controlling blood sugar, that has been found to also reduce clogging of arteries, lower blood pressure and increase the amount of "good" cholesterol.

Director of National Heart Foundation Datuk Dr Khoo Kah Lin said in a statement that a 30-month study involving 543 diabetic heart patients in 97 hospitals in North and South America discovered that pioglitazone caused a regression of coronary atherosclerosis, meaning less plaque was formed thus reducing blockage of the arteries.

It also improved blood pressure and raised by 16% the patients’ level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) or "good" cholesterol. Pioglitazone lowered triglycerides by 15% and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein by a whopping 45%.

Khoo said results of the study were recently presented at the 57th annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology in Chicago by eminent cardiologist Dr Steven Nissen, of Cleveland Clinic, Ohio.

"This is an important finding as over 1.2 million Malaysians are diabetics and many of them may be suffering from heart disease as well."

Type 2 diabetes patients constantly faced life-threatening conditions such as stroke, coronary heart disease and kidney failure due to complications arising from uncontrolled blood sugar levels.

Khoo, a consultant cardiologist, added: "This is the first time an oral medication has shown such an ability to reduce the clogging of coronary arteries. It clearly shows that with daily intake of pioglitazone, Type 2 diabetics have a lower chance of developing heart disease. This is obviously a very significant result that offers diabetics a new lease in life.

"We must always be aware that type 2 diabetes does not have a known cure but with the inclusion of pioglitazone in a diabetic heart patient, it can help prolong life."

He added the study showed pioglitazone did not have any ill cardio-vascular side effect that other drugs of its class had. More importantly, it concluded that pioglitazone had benefited Type 2 diabetics beyond controlling their blood sugar levels.

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