Diabetes Drug Looks Safe for Heart Failure Patients

FRIDAY, Jan. 15 (HealthDay News) -- The diabetes drug metformin is safe for diabetes patients with advanced heart failure, say U.S. researchers.

The study included 401 patients, average age 56, with type 2 diabetes and advanced systolic heart failure who were followed for 14 years in a heart-failure management program. The results suggest that metformin is safe in patients with both advanced heart failure and diabetes, and may be associated with better heart failure survival.

Metformin previously carried a "black box" warning from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration advising against its use in treating diabetes in heart failure patients. "In fact, many medications commonly used to lower serum glucose levels have theoretic or demonstrated adverse effects on heart failure," study senior author Dr. Tamara Horwich, an assistant professor of medicine, division of cardiology, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, said in a news release from the school.

"As a result, many physicians have been reluctant to use metformin and other similar medications to treat this patient group. However, our analysis shows that using metformin to treat diabetes in patients with advanced, systolic heart failure is not only safe, but may also play a role in improving outcomes compared to conventional diabetes care," Horwich said.

"There may be over 2 million individuals with heart failure and type 2 diabetes mellitus in the U.S. alone, so this important finding will have fairly broad impact," she noted.

The study was recently published online in the Journal of Cardiac Failure.

More information

The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more about heart failure.

SOURCE: University of California, Los Angeles, news release, Jan. 7, 2010

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