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Heart Beat: Dual duty for WelChol

April 01, 2008

Heart Beat

Dual duty for WelChol

Few people with type 2 diabetes have the "luxury" of controlling only their blood sugar. Most also struggle to keep their blood pressure and cholesterol in check. Colesevelam (WelChol) may help with two of these three tasks. It is the first drug to get approval from the FDA for reducing both harmful LDL cholesterol and blood sugar. WelChol works by latching onto bile acids in the intestine and locking them into a watery goo that is excreted in the stool. In clinical trials, it reduced the level of hemoglobin A1C (HbA1C), a marker that reflects the average amount of glucose to which blood cells have been exposed during the previous month or so. It also lowers LDL by 15% to 20%. WelChol alone won't control blood sugar; it is usually taken with metformin, insulin, or other medication. As is the case for Zetia, so far no trials have been completed to show whether WelChol's effects on cholesterol or blood sugar translate into fewer heart attacks or a longer life.

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