Rosiglitazone, a drug taken to help improve blood sugar levels, also helps boost the effectiveness of a treatment for opening clogged arteries, according to a study in the November issue of Diabetes Care.
People who have diabetes are far more likely to die from coronary artery disease than people who don't have diabetes. In fact, it is the leading cause of death for people with type 2 diabetes. Contributing to this problem is the fact that treatments that are effective for people who don't have diabetes often are not as effective for those who do.
One such treatment is percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), a group of procedures (such as balloon angioplasty) for opening narrowed arteries. Stents, which are used to prop open blocked coronary vessels, have proved to be an important complement to PCI. But in people with diabetes, major arteries often become reclogged after PCI, despite the use of stents. This problem is called restenosis, which can be treated with a second PCI procedure.
The rate of restenosis following PCI for people who don't have diabetes is 20-40 percent after six months. For people who do have diabetes, it is 32-66 percent.
But now researchers in Korea, under a grant provided by the Basic Research Program of the Korea Science & Engineering Foundation, have found that people with diabetes who take the drug rosiglitazone following coronary stent implantation are substantially less likely to require a second PCI procedure due to restenosis. The drug, which sells under the brand name Avandia, reduced restenosis rates by 54 percent in people who have type 2 diabetes. Those who experienced the reduced restenosis rates took 8 mg of the drug prior to catheterization and 4 mg daily thereafter. Researchers believe the reduced restenosis rate may occur partly because the drug lowers inflammation, which can lead to clogging of the arteries.
Rosiglitazone is commonly prescribed for people who have diabetes as a once- or twice-daily medication that helps the body more effectively use its own natural insulin to control blood sugar levels. It is part of a class of drugs known as thiazolidinediones (TZDs). A separate study, published last year in the American Heart Journal, found that another TZD, pioglitazone, may also aid in reducing restenosis.