Diabetes drug metformin may be used to treat heart failure, Scots study shows

RESEARCH carried out by scientists at a Scottish university has shown that the diabetes drug metformin may have the potential of being developed into a new treatment for patients with heart failure.

Metformin is the world’s most commonly prescribed diabetes medicine, and researchers from Dundee University have previously established that metformin affords type 2 diabetes patients protection against both cancer and cardiovascular disease.

But a new study, led by Chim Lang, Professor of Cardiology at the university, involving a clinical trial on non-diabetic patients, has shown that metformin may prove beneficial to patients suffering from heart failure.

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Professor Lang explained that previous research had also shown that patients with heart failure are at risk of diabetes and have insulin resistance - a condition in which the natural hormone becomes less effective in lowering blood sugar.

Insulin resistance is associated with lethargy and poor exercise effort, symptoms that limit the daily activities of heart failure sufferers.

The disease is manifested in fatigue and shortness of breath, and can lead to death or a severely diminished quality of life.

He said his team’s research, funded by the British Heart Foundation, had shown that metformin can help patients with heart failure to do more exercise, help reduce weight, and lead to an improvement in the performance of patients’ fat hormones.

Professor Lang said: “This is the first clinical trial that looked specifically at potential beneficial effects of metformin in pre-diabetic heart failure patients, and the results are very promising. These results are hypothesis generating. We believe that our findings may have the potential of developing into a new treatment strategy for patients with heart failure.”