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Diabetes Patients On Metformin Show Better Lipid Profile

Chinese researchers found that type 2 diabetes patients taking metformin – one of the first lines of defense in the treatment of the disease – attained a better overall lipid profile compared with those who took glipizide.

That’s important news for those with type 2 taking metformin, since 60 percent of all type 2 deaths are related to cardiovascular disease, and higher levels of lipids, which include cholesterol and triglycerides, in the blood can increase the risk of heart-related incidents.

Researchers from China’s Shanghai Jiao-Tong University School of Medicine conducted a study based on previous research showing fewer cardiovascular events in patients taking metformin than those taking glipizide. In an effort to determine why, researchers evaluated the lipid levels in serum samples of 44 diabetic patients, 23 taking metformin and 21 taking glipizide.

Metformin, a member of a class of drugs known as biguanides, works by suppressing glucose production by the liver. Glipizide, a member of a class of drugs known as sulfonylureas, works by increasing production of insulin by the pancreas.

The new analysis – which showed that metformin had an increased impact on lipid metabolism compared to glipizide – helped doctors zero in on the reasons why patients taking metformin had better cardiovascular outcomes.

“With the traditional clinical risk factors, we could not explain their differences on the cardiovascular outcomes,” said Dr. Yifei Zhang in an interview with Reuters Health. “Therefore, the results from the lipidomic analyses added new evidence regarding the underlying mechanisms of disease progression and the effects of different drug therapies on cardiovascular outcomes. On this point of view, we would prefer metformin use in especially high-risk type 2 diabetic patients instead of glipizide.”

The research, Zhang added, “could be a useful platform for clinical researchers to reveal the efficacy and safety of drug therapies, find new therapeutic targets, and discover the underlying mechanisms of disease progression, as well as to help the clinicians to do better health care practice toward their patients.”

The study appeared in a recent issue of the American Diabetes Association journal Diabetes Care.

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