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Originally published February 19 2009

Combination of Prescription Diabetes Drugs Boosts Risk of Cardiovascular Death

by David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) Patients undergoing combination treatment with two different classes of diabetes drugs may be at increased risk of cardiovascular death, death from other causes, or hospitalization due to cardiovascular disease, according to a study conducted by researchers from Tulane University School of Medicine and published in the journal Diabetes Care.

The researchers reviewed data from nine previously published studies that looked at rates of hospitalization and death in more than 101,000 Type 2 diabetes patients being treated with a combination of any drug in the sulfonylurea family along with metformin, a drug in the biguanide family.

They found that patients undergoing combination therapy were 19 percent more likely to die from any cause and 29 percent more likely to die from cardiovascular disease than patients being treated with only one diabetes drugs or with diet therapy alone. While these increases did not achieve statistical significance, the researchers also found a 43 percent increase in the risk of cardiovascular disease-related death or hospitalization that was statistically significant.

"So it appears that there is some increased risk with this combination that is the most widely used diabetes treatment of two drugs that are cheap and generic," said lead researcher Vivian A. Fonseca.

The researchers originally found 299 studies conducted between January 1966 and July 2007 that examined the connection between combination drug therapy and cardiovascular mortality in diabetics. Only nine of the studies were found to contain enough data to be included in the meta-analysis, however.

"The paper highlights a real dilemma we have today in diabetes treatment," Fonseca said. "We have drugs that lower glucose but we seem to run into problems over time with improving outcomes - particularly cardiovascular outcomes."

Diabetes is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, which is the United States' top killer. According to the American Diabetes Association, approximately 26 million people in the United States currently suffer from diabetes.

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