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Type 2 drugs and cardiovascular problems

Project summary

Prescribing to reduce cardiovascular events in patients with diabetes

Dr Martin Rutter will study key Type 2 diabetes drugs to find out if they are linked to cardiovascular problems. This will provide reliable and urgently needed information about the possible link between commonly prescribed Type 2 diabetes drugs and the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Background to research

Cardiovascular problems are a key complication of diabetes and people with the condition are twice as likely to have a heart attack or a stroke. Some scientists are concerned that diabetes medications, such as GLP-1 receptor agonists (including Byetta), DPP-4 inhibitors (including sitagliptin) and testosterone medications might increase the risk of cardiovascular problems. However, there is a lack of hard evidence to confirm this. Women with Type 2 diabetes are more likely to experience cardiovascular complications than men with Type 2 diabetes, but it is unclear why.

Research aims

Dr Martin Rutter and his team will study anonymous health records from around 6 million UK patients (including around 264,000 with diabetes) to find out if common Type 2 drugs are linked to cardiovascular problems. Specifically they want to find out if prescriptions for drugs like Byetta, sitagliptin and testosterone (in men) are linked to a higher risk of heart attack or stroke over a 3-4 year period. They also want to find out if sub-optimal management of blood glucose, blood pressure or cholesterol explain why women with Type 2 diabetes are at greater risk of having a heart attack or stroke than men with the condition.

Potential benefit to people with diabetes

This study will give doctors and people with Type 2 diabetes reliable and urgently needed information about the link between commonly prescribed Type 2 diabetes drugs and the risk of heart attack and stroke. It should help doctors to improve their advice to specific groups of people with Type 2 diabetes, such as the elderly or those with existing heart disease, about whether or not they should take or avoid particular drugs.

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