This site is intended for health professionals only

Diabetes pills cut heart attacks

Reducing blood sugar levels in diabetics can help cut the risk of heart attacks by a fifth but has no effect on strokes, according to a study.

Researchers looking at data from five trials involving more than 33,000 patients found intensive treatment of type 2 diabetes led to fewer heart attacks and less heart disease.

However the study, which compared the effects of standard therapy with that of intense treatment regimens, found driving down blood sugar levels had no effect on strokes and did not alter death rates.

Type 2 diabetes, which affects more than two million people in the UK and is linked with lifestyle, is treated with a combination of dietary changes and drugs.

Levels of sugar in the blood are regulated by insulin, which is used by cells as an energy source. People with diabetes are prescribed pills that increase levels of insulin or boost the body's sensitivity to the hormone.

The research, published in the Lancet medical journal, showed intensive treatment led to 17% fewer heart attacks and a 15% reduced risk of heart disease compared with standard treatment.

Copyright © Press Association 2009

The Lancet

Have your say on this topic, or start your own discussion at the Nursing in Practice Forum now!