Experts reveal existing and affordable drug can reduce heart disease

The world’s most commonly used Type 2 diabetes drug, Metformin, may be ‘repurposed’ to treat non-diabetic conditions according to researchers from the University of Dundee.

The international study led by Professor Chim Lang and Dr Graham Rena at the Division of Molecular and Clinical Medicine at Dundee suggests that there is now strong evidence that the drug exhibits an anti-inflammatory action which may prove significant in non-diabetic cardiovascular disease.

Inflammation is understood to contribute to cardiovascular disease (CVD) but existing nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) have shown limited utility in CVD treatment.

Metformin, used by hundreds of millions of people with Type 2 diabetes worldwide, has been in use for over 50 years but continues to reveal significant possibilities for treatments other than those for diabetes.

Other recent studies undertaken at the University of Dundee have shown that metformin may help treat Alzheimer’s disease and could potentially prevent cancer. The drug is also undergoing new clinical trials to determine if it can promote healthy aging.

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This report, however, finds that the anti-inflammatory effects of metformin are exerted irrespective of diabetes status, meaning it could be good news for anyone with heart disease, not just those with diabetes. Of course, further testing is required.

The research, a collaboration with researchers in Paris and Helsinki, is published in Circulation Research, one of the leading international journals in cardiovascular medicine, on Friday, 19th August.

Professor Jeremy Pearson, Associate Medical Director at the BHF, said, “These findings offer further evidence that old drugs can perform new tricks. Repurposed medicines can much more quickly benefit patients. If this existing and affordable drug can be repurposed as a heart disease treatment, then this is excellent news for those living with the condition. Research like this is essential to improving how we treat heart disease and preventing the sudden tragedies caused by heart attacks. We look forward to seeing how the research progresses in patient studies.”

Do you have heart disease? How do you manage it?