Micronase and other sulfonylurea drugs commonly used to treat diabetes may increase the risk of serious heart problems compared to taking metformin, according to the findings of a new study.
Researchers from Vanderbilt University Medical Center indicate that side effects of Glucotrol, DiaBeta, or Micronase among individuals who also had reduced kidney function may carry a 20% increased risk of suffering a serious heart event, when compared to individuals using the older diabetes drug metformin.
In a report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), researchers outlined the results of a retrospective study involving U.S. veterans receiving care within the national Veterans Health Administration using data from Medicare, Medicaid, and National Death Index data form 2001 to 2016.
The study included 175,000 patients newly diagnosed with diabetes and who started using either metformin or a drug like Glucotrol for diabetes, but also reached a reduced kidney function threshold.
Among those, nearly 50,000 patients continued using only one of the drugs and were included in the analysis.
Overall, sulfonylurea use increased a patient’s risk of suffering a serious cardiovascular side effect by 20% compared to metformin. Major cardiovascular events included heart attack, stroke, transient ischemic attack, or cardiovascular death.
Metformin has received scrutiny in recent years as past studies linked the use of the drug to increased risk of heart failure in men and impaired cognitive function. Despite the risks, the new study concluded metformin posed less of a risk to type 2 diabetes patients than drugs like Glucotrol.
The incidence of major adverse cardiovascular events among those treated with metformin was 23 per 1,000 person years compared to 29 per 1,000 person years among patients taking sulfonylurea drugs like DiaBeta and Micronase.
There was a total of 1,400 side effects in the sulfonylurea group, compared to only 1,048 side effects in the metformin group at one year follow-up.
Prior to 2016, safety concerns limited metformin use in patients with kidney disease. For that reason, the effectiveness of the drug in patients with reduced kidney function was unknown.
There are roughly 30 million U.S. adults with type 2 diabetes and 20% of them have impaired kidney function. Researchers initiated the study to focus on those patients with both type 2 diabetes and reduced kidney function.