Diabetes Drug Actos May Cut Heart Risk
Diabetes Raises Heart Disease Risks; Actos May Lower Those Risks
Dec. 5, 2006 -- The diabetes drug Actos may trump an older diabetes drug at
lowering heart disease risk in diabetes patients.
Diabetes makes heart attacks and heart disease more likely.
A new study compares two diabetes drugs -- Actos and glimepiride -- in 462
adults with type 2 diabetes.
The key finding: Patients taking Actos had less wall thickening of their
carotid arteries -- which bring blood through the neck to the brain -- over 18
"Additional data needs to be brought to bear," researcher Theodore
Mazzone, MD, says in a news release.
"However," he adds, "this is very helpful for suggesting that
[Actos] could be a useful, novel approach for managing cardiovascular risk in
patients with diabetes."
Mazzone works at the University of Illinois at Chicago Medical School.
The study appears in The Journal of the American Medical Association.
Different Methods of Action
The study's two drugs work differently.
Actos boosts the body's sensitivity to insulin, a hormone that controls
blood sugar. Glimepiride, sold generically and as Amaryl, spurs the body to
make more insulin.
Actos was approved by the FDA in 1999. Glimepiride was approved in 1995.
Mazzone's team studied a racially diverse group of Chicago-area diabetes
When the study started, the patients were 60 years old, on average. They had
"good" blood sugar control and most were using diabetes drugs, the
Most patients were also taking blood pressure drugs and cholesterol-lowering
statin drugs. They were free to keep taking those drugs during the study.
The researchers gave the patients Actos or glimepiride for 18 months.
Before-and-after ultrasound images show less thickening of the carotid
artery walls in the Actos group over 18 months.
The carotid artery wall's thickness is a measure of atherosclerosis
(hardening of the arteries), the researchers note.
"The less the thickening, and the slower the rate of thickening, the
less risk of heart attack in general,"
Mazzone says in a university news release.
Few side effects -- and no heart-related deaths -- were reported in either
group. However, both drugs can have side effects.
Patients taking Actos gained slightly more weight (7 pounds) than those
taking glimepiride (about 2 pounds), on average.
The study was funded by Takeda Pharmaceuticals North America, which makes
Actos. Takeda is a WebMD sponsor.