An oral anti-diabetic drug, pioglitazone, has been shown to reduce clogging of arteries, lowered blood pressure, raised good cholesterol and improved on other cardio-vascular risk factors. In the study presented at the recent 57th annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology in Chicago, it was discovered that pioglitazone caused a regression of coronary atherosclerosis.
It also improved blood pressure, raised high-density lipoprotein (HDL) by 16%, and lowered triglycerides by 15% and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein by some 45%. This double-blind study was conducted by world renowned heart specialist Dr Steven Nissen, of Cleveland Clinic, Ohio, in the US.
It was carried out from August 2003 till March 2006, across 97 hospitals in North and South America. The study covered 543 diabetic patients who also have heart disease.
Datuk Dr Khoo Kah Lin, the director of the National Heart Foundation (Yayasan Jantung Malaysia), said that Type 2 diabetics constantly faced life-threatening conditions such as stroke, coronary heart disease and kidney failure due to complications arising from diabetes.
He said the outcome of the study has given diabetics new hope in managing their cardio-vascular risk factors. The study, titled Pioglitazone Effect on Regression of Intravascular Sonographic Coronary Obstruction Prospective Evaluation (Periscope), compared insulin-sensitiser pioglitazone with insulin secretagogue, glimepiride, over an 18-month period.
The result of the Periscope study indicated that, while glimepiride therapy showed a 0.73% rise in plaque (a deposit of fatty material on the inner lining of an arterial wall, which can lead to clogged arteries), pioglitazone, instead, had a 0.16% drop in plaque volume.
Datuk Dr Khoo Kah Lin said: “This is the first time an oral medication has shown such an ability to reduce the clogging of
coronary arteries. “It clearly shows that with daily intake of pioglitazone, Type 2 diabetics have a lower chance of developing heart disease.
This obviously a very significant result that offers diabetics a new lease in life. “We must always be aware that Type 2 diabetes does not have a known cure but with the inclusion of pioglitazone in a diabetic heart patient, it can help prolong life.”
He added that the Periscope results showed pioglitazone did not have any ill cardio-vascular side effect that other drugs of its class had. More importantly, it had benefited Type 2 diabetics beyond controlling their blood sugar levels by reducing mortality and diseases arising from diabetic complications and preserving quality of life.