A new study has found that diabetes drug pioglitazone (Actos) can reduce the risk of recurring stroke and heart attacks.

The drug works by combating the insulin resistance of the body, and scientists have found that it could reduce the number of strokes and heart attacks. Both are an important cause of disability and death around the world, writes Rhodi Lee for Tech Times.

Diabetes Drug Could Combat Heart Attacks And Strokes

Diabetes drug reduces risk of heart attack and stroke

Results of the study have been published in the New England Journal of Medicine, taking in data from almost 4,000 people. The subjects were not diagnosed with diabetes but were insulin-resistant for 5 years. They received either pioglitazone or a placebo for the duration of the study.

11.8% of those that received the placebo suffered a stroke or a heart attack, while less than 9% of those who took the drug suffered either incidence. Those that took pioglitazone also suffered lower rates of diabetes, with only 4% developing the condition compared to 7% of those that took a placebo.

“We found that pioglitazone, a therapy directed at improving insulin sensitivity, can prevent cardiovascular events among patients who have insulin resistance along with cerebrovascular disease,” the researchers conclude in their study. “Administration of pioglitazone in 100 patients similar to those in our trial for about five years could prevent three patients from having a stroke or myocardial infarction.”

Doctors hail new option for preventive health

People who are insulin-resistant suffer from an increased risk for stroke and heart attacks, as their cells do not respond to insulin like other people’s. This study shows that drugs for insulin resistance can help prevent strokes and heart attacks.

“After years of controversy, pioglitazone is now proven to have cardiovascular benefits,” says Dr. Silvio Inzucchi, from Yale University. “It’s exciting to think that metabolic therapy may now be poised to take its place beside aspirin and cholesterol- and blood pressure-lowering therapies for preventing stroke in non-diabetic patients.”

However there are risks associated with taking the drug. It was found to raise the risk of suffering a bone fracture that would need surgery or time in hospital. Patients who took the drug also showed weight gain and edema.

However despite these negative side effects, the scientists concluded that diabetes drug pioglitazone should be used as a preventive health option.