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Diabetes drug shows promise in treating and reversing heart failure

A newly released study found that people with heart failure who received the diabetes drug empagliflozin showed significant improvements in heart structure and function

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A newly released study found that people with heart failure who received the diabetes drug empagliflozin showed significant improvements in heart structure and function, with many experiencing a reversal of the disease.

Heart failure occurs when the heart cannot pump blood effectively to other parts of the body, causing symptoms that include shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, weakness and tiredness, and weight gain and swelling in the legs, ankles, feet, or stomach.

It may progress to congestive heart failure due to the buildup of fluids in the lungs, liver, and lower extremities.

Underlying causes of heart failure include coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, obesity, heart valve disease, and diabetes. Over time, these diseases may result in “adverse modeling,” which is the heart’s attempt to compensate for its added workload by getting larger, developing thicker walls, and pumping more frequently.

Read more: Diabetes: Can some antidepressants reduce death risk?

Among people with heart failure, about 50% present with heart failure with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF). The lowered ejection fraction occurs when the heart’s left ventricle cannot pump blood effectively, decreasing the amount of blood that leaves the ventricle to circulate the body after each contraction.

Heart attack, periodontitis risk doubled

Dr. Norhammar and colleagues used data from a preexisting study called PAROKRANK, which included 805 participants who had experienced a heart attack — or myocardial infarction — and 805 age- and sex-matched healthy control participants. The researchers took blood samples from the participants and examined their blood sugar control. Using X-rays, they also evaluated the participants’ periodontal status.

After excluding people who had received an official diabetes diagnosis, the study focused on 712 people who had experienced a heart attack and 731 control participants. The researchers classified the participants’ blood sugar control using three categories: normal, reduced, and newly detected diabetes.

They then adjusted for age, sex, smoking status, education, and civil status. The team applied logistic regression and found that participants who had experienced a heart attack were twice as likely to have undetected dysglycemia — which includes diabetes and poor glucose tolerance — as control participants.

“Undetected dysglycemia was independently associated to both [myocardial infarction] and severe [periodontitis]. In principal, it doubled the risk of a first [myocardial infarction] and of severe [periodontitis],” write the authors.

Read more: Can chocolate prevent type-2 diabetes?

Undetected diabetes also correlated strongly with severe periodontitis. “This supports the hypothesis that dysglycemia drives two common diseases, [myocardial infarction] and [periodontal disease],” the authors conclude. Severe periodontitis affects up to 15% of all adults. In the United States, over 30 million adults have diabetes. Each year, 735,000 U.S. adults experience a heart attack.

“Our findings indicate that dysglycemia is a key risk factor in both severe periodontitis and myocardial infarction and that the combination of severe periodontitis and undetected diabetes further increases the risk of myocardial infarction,” says Dr. Norhammar.

However, the researchers also caution about the study’s limitations, such as the low number of study participants who had severe periodontitis and undetected diabetes. Medical News Today have reported on a range of other seemingly unrelated conditions that may be driven by gum disease.

Read more: Can diets and supplements really protect the heart?

Cancerdementiaerectile dysfunction, and respiratory disease are only some of the conditions that are more likely to develop in people with poor gum health. “Our study shows that undetected glucose disorders are common in two major diseases — myocardial infarction and periodontitis,” Dr. Norhammar emphasizes.

Online Int’l News with additional input by GVS News Desk

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