December 19, 2013

The Hearts of Men and Women with Diabetes

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men-womenMen are from Mars. Women are from Venus. Aside from the cosmic differences in a best-selling book, a new study has found that diabetes drugs affect hearts differently in men and women. The study was published in American Journal of Physiology Heart and Circulatory Physiology.

The findings of this study showed that the commonly prescribed diabetes drug metformin affected men and women differently. Although it lowered blood glucose in both sexes equally, the adverse effects were pronounced in heart health of men.

The study of 78 people with T2D consisted of 3 treatment groups. The first group received metformin, the second received metformin plus Avandia, and the third received metformin plus Lovaza, which is a kind of fish oil.

All 3 groups achieved good glucose control. Initially heart metabolism was not a standout effect of the study but when researchers separated the participants by sex, they were able to see which diabetes treatment protocol is better for males versus females.  

Metformin slows glucose production by the liver and enhances insulin sensitivity. Avandia also improves insulin sensitivity and is known to move free fatty acids out of the blood. Lovaza lowers triglycerides.

More specifically, metformin caused the heart metabolism of men to burn less sugar and more fats. Chronic burning of fat by the heart leads to damaging changes in the heart muscle, which can lead to heart failure.

Men taking Lovaza or Avandia along with metformin, counteracted some of the negative heart effects of metformin. This advantage was not observed in women. Perhaps the FDA red flags on Avandia in 2010 were in light of studies that were conducted mostly on women.

As with any medical issue, we cannot expect to treat all people with the same condition with the same drug protocol. You doctor knows you best. Male, female, liver health, heart history, it’s all part of the custom experience we know and love with our doctor.

Visit Your Diabetes Health for more resources about health.