A cheap 1p diabetes pill can stop heart attacks and strokes and save the NHS billions each year in looking for new treatments, says British researchers
- Scientists believe prescribing it could cut the number of deaths from diabetes
- Metformin, prescribed for Type 2 diabetes, could reverse harmful build-up
- After taking it daily for a year, the thickening was reduced by around half
Cheap diabetes pills could prevent thousands of heart attacks and strokes every year, research suggests.
Two British studies found that those taking the drug metformin – which costs as little as 1p a pill – had lower blood pressure, lost weight and saw harmful thickening of the heart reversed.
Scientists believe that prescribing it could cut the number who die from heart attack, stroke or heart failure, and save the NHS billions each year in looking for new treatments. Researchers at Dundee University gave the drug to patients with coronary heart disease to see how it affected the heart and circulatory system.
The pills are available for 1p each and are already prescribed to those with type two diabetes
They found that metformin, which is commonly prescribed for Type 2 diabetes, could reverse harmful thickening of the left ventricle, the heart’s main pumping chamber. After taking it daily for a year, the thickening was reduced by twice as much in those taking metformin compared to those taking a placebo. Patients who took metformin also had reduced blood pressure and lost an average of 6.5lb, compared to no weight loss in the other group.
In the second study, conducted by the same university, researchers tested the drug in relation to a condition called aortic stenosis (AS), which causes heart failure.
Presenting their findings at the British Cardiovascular Society Conference in Manchester today, they will say that diabetic patients with AS who were treated with metformin were less likely to die from heart attack, stroke or heart failure than those on other diabetes treatments.
Dr Ify Mordi, a clinical lecturer in cardiology at Dundee University, said: ‘We need to undertake bigger studies to confirm our findings, but if successful this could offer hope for thousands, if not millions of patients across the UK.’
Patients who took the drug had reduced blood pressure and were less at risk from diabetes-related complications
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