Sulphonylurea Drugs Could Damage Your Heart

| March 20, 2017

Sulphonylurea drugs, like glimepiride (Amaryl) and glibenclamide (Daonil), are given to people with type 2 diabetes, to boost insulin production. Next to metformin, they are the most commonly prescribed class of diabetes drugs, accounting for 8.5 million prescriptions in England alone last year.

But sulphonylureas have a major drawback – they seriously raise the risk of low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia) episodes, or ‘hypos’. This is because these drugs don’t just increase insulin levels, they also block the liver from making more glucose. The result can be very low blood sugar, causing people to feel weak and tired, get headaches and become confused.

A new study has found that hypos linked to sulphonylurea drugs aren’t just unpleasant, they could also endanger heart health. Scientists in Sydney, Australia carried out continuous, 48-hour blood sugar and heart rate monitoring in 30 adults with well-controlled type 2 diabetes who were taking sulphonylureas. The results showed that drug-induced hypos were linked with certain heart rate disturbances that are often warning signs of more serious heart disease.1

Even without these latest findings, there are very good reasons to avoid sulphonylurea drugs – or, if you are currently taking them, to talk to your doctor about less dangerous alternatives. A big side effect is weight gain. Frequent hypos tend to make you eat more sugary foods, but in addition, sulphonylureas encourage more fat storage and prevent fat being burned for energy.

But the most shocking thing about sulphonylurea drugs is that they may actually make your diabetes worse. Although they boost insulin secretion in the short term, when you’ve been on them for a few years they could work the other way, reducing insulin secretion and killing off your beta cells.2

In my next blog post, I’ll tell you how another dangerous drug is being touted for preventing type 2 diabetes, in people with raised blood sugar levels.

Wishing you the best of health,

Martin Hum
PhD DHD Nutritionist
for Real Diabetes Truth

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1. Middleton TL, Wong J, Molyneaux L, Brooks BA, Yue DK, Twigg SM, Wu T. Cardiac effects of sulfonylurea-related hypoglycemia. Diabetes Care. 2017 Feb 21 (Online ahead of print).

2. Takahashi A, Nagashima K, Hamasaki A et al. Sulfonylurea and glinide reduce insulin content, functional expression of K(ATP) channels, and accelerate apoptotic beta-cell death in the chronic phase. Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2007; 77(3):343-350.

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Category: Diabetes Drugs

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