Diabetes drug reduces heart and kidney problems

By Ellie Stutsman

A clinical trial led by researchers at the Population Health Research Institute of Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) and McMaster University has found that the drug dulaglutide reduces heart and kidney issues in middle-aged and older people with Type 2 diabetes.

The “REWIND” study followed more than 9,900 people in 24 countries over five years and found that cardiovascular events like heart attacks and strokes were reduced by 12 per cent in people taking dulaglutide compared to people taking a placebo. This effect was seen in both men and women with or without previous heart disease.

During the same period, the drug reduced the development of kidney disease by 15 per cent.

The trial was led by Dr. Hertzel Gerstein, endocrinologist at HHS and professor of medicine at McMaster University.

“Compared to others, people with diabetes have twice the rate of heart attacks and strokes, and up to 40 per cent of people with diabetes develop kidney disease,” says Dr. Gerstein.

“The REWIND trial shows that dulaglutide can safely reduce these events while improving diabetes control lowering weight and blood pressure in middle-aged people living with Type 2 diabetes.”

Nearly one in five people over the age of 60 have diabetes and most have Type 2 diabetes. Altogether, nearly ten per cent of adults are living with diabetes, including 425 million people worldwide; 100 million in the U.S., and three million people in Canada.

Dulaglutide is taken via injection once per week. It is approved for glucose lowering and works by helping the pancreas release the right amount of insulin when blood sugar levels are high, slowing the emptying of the stomach after a meal, and reducing appetite and weight.

Dr. Gerstein notes that study participants were very similar to the sorts of people with diabetes who are seen in medical practice. Participants were followed for about 5 years, much longer than previous trials, and more than 46 per cent of participants were women. Less than a third of participants had previous cardiovascular disease.

Ellie Stutsman is a Public Relations Specialist at Hamilton Health Sciences.