Avandia and Your Heart

by Dr. Stephen Sinatra
Filed Under: Heart Health
Last Reviewed 02/06/2014

Many of you have probably been hearing and reading about the ongoing Avandia controversy. Anyone with diabetes—especially those who taking this drug that’s been designed to keep blood sugar at bay—have reason to be concerned. Those of you who subscribe to my newsletter have gotten my take on Avandia, as well as alternative solutions to treat diabetes, over the years.

But the drug is back in the news this week, so let’s update you all on the subject. After years of discussion regarding the safety of the drug, our FDA is poised to decide the fate of Avandia, and it looks like there are three possible outcomes: they will demand even more warnings on the Avandia label; only specific MDs will be allowed to prescribe it; or it will be taken off the market.

When folks ask me what I think, my answer is that as long as there is any whiff of danger—and there is question about an increased risk for both heart attack and heart failure in those taking Avandia—then the potential risks out-trump the benefits. It’s just a no-brainer. Why put yourself in harm’s way if there is even a slight doubt?

My Recommendation

If you have mild diabetes, are 20 to 30 pounds overweight, and your MD wants to put you on an oral hypoglycemic, you should know about intriguing research I mentioned in my Heart, Health & Nutrition newsletter.

In a stellar study published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, researchers compared people taking Metformin—a oral hypoglycemic mainstay preferred by many MDs—with a group of folks who made serious shows lifestyle changes.  The lifestylers exercised, follow a sound low glycemic diet, and lost weight. AND they lifestylers had a more significant reduction in their blood sugar levels than the people taking Metformin!

For those of you who do need to rely on medication to control your diabetes, talk with your physician about using a pharmaceutical with a tried and true track record like Metformin, and start making the lifestyle changes (i.e. low glycemic diet, increased exercise, etc.), so that you can eventually lose weight and possibly take a lower dose, or even wean off the drug. 
 

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