THURSDAY, Oct. 6, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- The diabetes drug pioglitazone can reduce the risk of death, heart attack and stroke in high-risk type 2 diabetes patients, a new study finds.
The study authors noted that diabetics have a two- to four-fold increased risk of suffering a cardiovascular event compared to people who don't have diabetes. Before this study, there was only indirect evidence that pioglitazone may reduce the risk of cardiovascular illness and death in people with diabetes.
Appearing in this week's issue of The Lancet, the study included more than 5,200 type 2 diabetes patients with evidence of cardiovascular disease. In addition to their existing medications for diabetes and cardiovascular disease, half of the patients were given pioglitazone while the other half received a placebo.
Patient outcomes were tracked for an average of 34.5 months. According to the group of European researchers, the pioglitzone group experienced 803 cardiovascular events -- deaths, heart attacks, strokes, cardiac or leg interventions and acute coronary syndrome -- while the placebo group experienced 900 events.
The patients in the pioglitazone group also took longer before they needed to begin insulin therapy compared to those in the placebo group, the study said.
The treatment group did experience an increase in reported heart failure, but the number of heart failure deaths in both groups was similar.
The researchers concluded that, in a group of 1,000 type 2 diabetes patients, pioglitzone use could prevent 21 first heart attacks, strokes or deaths over three years.
The American Diabetes Association has more about diabetes.