Popular diabetes medication linked to heart attack, death

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A new study links the popular diabetes drug Avandia with an increased risk of heart attack and death, which could have a considerable effect on public health, according to researchers.

Researchers affiliated with insurer WellPoint analyzed the results of 16 studies involving 810,000 Avandia users and found a “modest but statistically significant” increase in the risk of heart attack and other certain heart conditions among those who took the diabetes management drug. Overall risk of mortality rose by 14% among those who took the drug, while risk of heart attack and risk of congestive heart failure rose by 16% and 23% respectively, according to the report.  It appeared in the March 17 online version of BMJ (British Medical Journal).

One researcher on the team, Dr. Debra Wertz, had previously co-authored a study that found no link between Avandia (rosiglitazone) and increased risk of heart attack. But she was quick to point out that that study involved younger, comparatively healthier adults under the age of 65, while this study was comprehensive in its scope.

Avandia is prescribed to roughly 3.8 million Americans to help manage type 2 diabetes. Diabetes is the No. 1 cause of adult blindness, kidney failure and limb amputations in America, and can exacerbate both leg ulcers and some forms of dementia. The number of adults with type 2 diabetes is expected to nearly triple by 2050, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (McKnight's, 10/25/10)

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