Diabetics May Have Super-Sticky Cholesterol

May 30th, 2011

As if having diabetes isn't troubling enough, the British Heart Foundation is now warning that type 2 diabetics are more likely to have a newly discovered super-sticky "ultra bad" form of cholesterol. This extra sticky cholesterol is more likely to adhere to and build up in the arteries, forming dangerous artery-narrowing plaque. These narrowed or blocked arteries are the cause of coronary heart disease and resulting heart attacks and strokes.

The super-sticky cholesterol, called MGmin-LDL, is formed by the bonding of a sugar molecule (such as glucose or fructose) to a lipid molecule (such as low density lipoprotein) in a process called glycation. Glycation changes the shape of LDL molecules, making them smaller and denser and creating more exposed areas that are likely to stick to artery walls.

Low density lipoprotein, or LDL, enables the transfer of lipids (fatty substances) like cholesterol and triglycerides in the bloodstream. High levels of LDL cholesterol are a major risk factor for heart disease, as is diabetes. Narrowed arteries not only reduce blood flow, they can rupture, releasing a blood clot. If the clot causes a blockage in the heart, it can cause a heart attack, and if it lands in the brain, it can cause a stroke.

In fact, America's over 25 million diabetics are twice as likely to develop heart or vascular disease as the general population, and at least sixty percent of diabetics die from a cardiovascular event such as a heart attack or stroke. There is a direct correlation between the amount of plaque in their arteries and the risk of early death for diabetics.

These new findings may help explain the increased risk of coronary heart disease in diabetics. The discovery of the relationship between blood glucose and the formation of "ultra bad" cholesterol also explains why use of the widely prescribed oral diabetes medication Glucophage (generic metformin) has been linked to a reduced risk of heart attack. The diabetes medicine is believed to block the transformation of LDL to the stickier MGmin-LDL.

It's hoped that the discovery of this new type of more harmful cholesterol will lead to advancements in the prevention and treatment of heart disease in both diabetics and the elderly, who are also more likely to develop MGmin-LDL.

"Understanding exactly how 'ultra-bad' LDL damages arteries is crucial," stresses British Heart Foundation Research Advisor Dr. Shannon Amoils, "As this knowledge could help develop new anti-cholesterol treatments for patients."

"We've known for a long time that people with diabetes are at greater risk of heart attack and stroke," says Amoils, "There is still more work to be done to untangle why this is the case, but this study is an important step in the right direction." The next step for the British researchers is to develop treatments to target this more dangerous type of cholesterol, and to help neutralize its harmful effects on diabetics' arteries.

Diabetes Drug Metformin Safer for the Heart

July 12th, 2011

The type 2 diabetes drug metformin is safer for the heart than other older diabetes medication, according to a two-year study. The findings are important because older patients with diabetes are at particular risk for cardiovascular disease, and because many of them are prescribed a class of diabetes medications called sulfonylureas that may raise this risk.

The controversial diabetes drug Avandia, which has been linked to heart problems, is a sulfonylureas diabetes drug. Sulfonylureas have also been linked to episodes of low blood sugar, and to weight gain.

Sulfonylureas drugs and metformin (also known by the brand name Glucophage) lower blood sugar in different ways. Metformin works by suppressing sugar production in the liver, while sulfonylureas work by increasing insulin production. To read more about the study findings on WebMD, >CLICK HERE.<

Diabetics May Be Wasting Billions on Unnecessary Medication

August 11th, 2011

Type 2 diabetes patients may be wasting billions of dollars on unnecessary medication. Three doctors who recently evaluated the effectiveness of commonly prescribed fibrates in diabetes patients with high cholesterol have said that the drugs have not been proven effective. The doctors, who conducted the research for the FDA, reported their findings in a commentary in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Diabetics are at high risk of cardiovascular disease, and fibrates are commonly prescribed along with statins and diabetes medication to lower the risk of heart attacks. The statins and fibrates were thought to work in combination to lower "bad" LDL cholesterol and raise "good" HDL cholesterol levels.

But, although fibrates such as Tricor (fenofibrate), Lopid (gemfibrozil) and Trilipix (fenofibric acid) are routinely prescribed to diabetics, there have been few studies assessing their effectiveness. "Thousands and thousands of Americans take fibrates every day," said one of the commentary's authors, Dr Sanjay Kaul from the Cedars-Sanai Heart Institute, "But so far there are no long-term studies showing that fibrates lower cardiovascular risk or improve survival among diabetes patients who are also on statins."

The commentary authors are calling for more studies, and recommending doctors only prescribe fibrates along with statins to diabetics at high risk of heart attack, and only after they have achieved healthy LDL levels.

While no diabetic should adjust their diabetes medication without consulting their physician, many type 2 diabetics may be able to lower the cost of their diabetes medicine without affecting their diabetes control based on this new recommendation.