Harvard Heart Letter

Outlook on diabetes drug less than rosy

Early work suggests that rosiglitazone (Avandia) may not be best for the heart.

In May 2007, millions of people with diabetes got something extra to worry about — the possibility that a drug they were taking to control blood sugar might be harming their hearts. According to a report in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) that touched off a media firestorm, Avandia (rosiglitazone) increases the chances of having a heart attack or dying of cardiovascular disease. The news prompted many people to call their doctors.

The cardiovascular safety of Avandia and other diabetes drugs is an important issue, since heart disease is the most common cause of death among people with diabetes. More than 16 million Americans have the disease, and the number is growing fast. The preliminary finding certainly sounds a note of caution about this new drug.

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