Last Updated on May 7, 2020 by Matt Schmidt
One of the most popular diabetes medications could be one of the best for your heart. A recent data analysis study showed that Metformin isn’t only good at controlling glucose levels, but it also has few health risks when compared to other top medications. The analysis looked at over 204 different studies that had over 1 million people involved. For those that are using Metformin to control type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes, there is some good news coming your way.
Looking at the data from all of the studies showed that patients using Metformin had a 30%-40% less chance of dying from a heart attack or stroke compared to diabetics using other drugs like glipizide, sulfonylureas, and others. The data used diabetic patients from across the globe, which eliminates the variable of some races having higher risks of heart attacks. According to the Diatribe Organization, “Metformin, which is also sold under the trade names Glucophage, Fortamet, Glumetza, and Riomet, is of the class of drugs called biguanides, which inhibit the production of glucose in the liver.
The medicine does not increase insulin levels in the body, but instead lessens the amount of sugar the body produces and absorbs. As it lowers glucose production in the liver, metformin also lowers blood sugar by increasing the body’s sensitivity to insulin. It also decreases the amount of glucose that our bodies absorb from the foods we eat.
For most people with type 2 diabetes, metformin works to bring down blood sugar gradually when combined with a healthy diet and exercise (I found Adam Brown’s book, Bright Spots & Landmines: The Diabetes Guide I Wish Someone Had Handed Me to be helpful, particularly in deciding what to eat and not to eat). It’s not so much a quick fix with overnight results as it is an important component of a larger health regimen that keeps the condition manageable.”
While there have been dozens of new medications to enter into the diabetes market, Metformin is still proving to be one of the most effective and safest drugs to control blood sugar. The lead author of the study, Dr. Shari Bolen, who is an assistant professor of medicine at Case Western Reserve University’s Center for Health Care Research and Policy share her thoughts on the diabetes drug, “Pharmaceutical companies continue to make new drugs to reduce blood sugar and improve safety concerns of the older drugs”, Bolen went on to reinforce the idea of Metformin still being one of the best on the market.
Because of the constant research and development, it’s surprising that Metformin is still king of the hill in the diabetes arena. The drug has been used since the late 1990s and is still a low-cost option, which makes it the perfect prescription for a lot of diabetics.
Heart Risk and Diabetes
Anyone that is diagnosed with diabetes already has a higher risk of having heart complications than those without the condition. High glucose levels over a long time can create deposits of fatty materials on the insides of blood vessels walls, which then can impact blood flow which will increase clogging and hardening of blood vessels. It’s important not to raise our risk even more by taking medications that can increase our chances. Dr. Joel Zonszein, director of the Clinical Diabetes Center at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City mentions “We know, or we should know, that metformin is a good first-line agent to treat adults with type 2 diabetes and that it has favorable cardiovascular mortality — certainly when compared to sulfonylureas — nothing new,” he said.
The cost for diabetes care is not the cost of the medications, “it is the cost of complications,” Zonszein said.
“For instance, one of the most common and expensive reasons for acute complications is the use of sulfonylureas and insulin that cause hypoglycemia [dangerously low blood sugar],” he said. “We have many medications that don’t cause hypoglycemia and are equally or more effective.”
Even newer drugs may be more effective in preventing heart attacks and strokes, he said. “We have now three different drugs that have shown real superiority for cardiovascular outcomes, in addition to conventional therapy that includes good blood pressure control, aspirin, and statins to reduce cholesterol,” Zonszein said.
Having uncontrolled diabetes can double your risk of having cardiovascular complications, which reinforces the importance of keeping glucose levels in a healthy range. If you keep your diabetes under control, you can reduce your risk by half. Aside from controlling your glucose levels, maintaining a healthy diet and regular exercise will also lower your risk of having a heart attack (and they are both great for your diabetes, it’s a win-win).
For diabetics, heart risk is a serious concern that isn’t discussed enough within the diabetic community. Because many diabetics are on more than one medication, the risk of heart attack or stroke is a common problem. It’s important to manage our diabetes, not only so our glucose levels don’t increase the risk of heart attack, but also to manage the condition without using several medications that could drastically raise our risks. We cannot stress this enough. You need to speak with your Doctor, or Endocrinologist, and have a serious conversation about the treatment of Metformin. If they feel Metformin may cause heart disease, or heart attacks, you may want to discuss an alternative method of treatment.
What You Need to Know
Because doctors are already using Metformin, this study probably isn’t going to change prescription habits. But this information is encouraging for diabetics that are using the drug. If you’re only on several medications to manage your diabetes, talk to your doctor about making some chances to lower your risk of a heart attack.
According to Healthline, Metformin has a long track record of safety and effectiveness, use of the drug may come with side effects.
In fact, side effects on the digestive tract have led a number of people with diabetes to stop taking the medication.
“The most common side effects of metformin are gastrointestinal disturbances such as nausea, vomiting, gas, diarrhea, and stomach upset,” Dr. Wendy Gregor, MA, RDN, CDE, a registered dietitian nutritionist and certified diabetes educator at Cecelia Health in New York said. “Taking metformin with food can help reduce these symptoms.”
According to the National Institutes of Health, people who use metformin may also experience more serious symptoms such as:
- a metallic taste in the mouth
- nail changes
- muscle pain
If you are concerned that having diabetes can cause you to not qualify for a no exam life insurance policy, let us answer your questions and help you obtain the coverage you deserve. To be quite honest, taking Metformin to control your Diabetes will not impact your life insurance rates.
Life insurance companies are more than happy to approve people who are taking Metformin. What they are more concerned about is your over health profile. Are you following your Doctors orders? Do you have Diabetes complications such as retinopathy or neuropathy?
Having any type of Diabetes related complication will make coverage slightly more expensive compared to people who do not have a form of complication. In certain cases, you may be declined for coverage altogether depending on the severity of your complications from Diabetes.
Please remember that life insurance companies are always going to view your complete health profile to determine your eligibility. We’ve successfully helped several people who are taking Metformin obtain affordable life insurance. This includes Term Life Insurance and Whole Life Insurance for Diabetics.
Diabetes Life Solutions is here to serve the Diabetes community. Contact us at 888-629-3064 and have a conversation with us. We’ll always provide you honest information in regards to your insurance options.