Diabetes drug can raise heart disease risk by 25 percent

A study of 810,000 people found that those taking Avandia were 23 percent more likely to suffer congestive heart failure and 14 percent more likely to die, compared to a similar medication.

In addition, they were 16 percent more likely to have a heart attack, the British Medical Journal reports.  Last September, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) suspended the licence for the drug after 10 years on the market, saying the evidence of its harmful effects had tipped the balance against it being prescribed, according to the Telegraph.

The latest study is further evidence supporting that decision. It analysed the results of 16 separate studies in 810,000 patients, of which 429,000 were on Avandia -- also known by its generic name rosiglitazone, and 381,000 who were on Actos -- also known as pioglitazone. Most were over the age of 60.  The drugs belong to a class that help control blood sugar levels in patients with Type 2 diabetes.

It found that Avandia could have led to an extra 431 deaths per 100,000 people, an extra 170 heart attacks and an extra 649 cases of heart failure.  University of East Anglia pharmacology lecturer Yoon Kong Loke, who led the study, warned that although the drug had been withdrawn in Britain, patients could still be affected by it.

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