Rx May Ease Heart Trouble for Patients With Diabetes

Fenofibrate associated with reduced cardiovascular events in Type 2 diabetes patients

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Fenofibrate may help lower blood fat in those with unhealthy cholesterol levels. While the medicine has been shown to help men with diabetes, it may also improve heart health in women.

Patients with diabetes often have high LDL ("bad") cholesterol, low HDL ("good") cholesterol and high triglycerides (a type of blood fat), according to the American Heart Association. Unhealthy cholesterol raises the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Statins are often prescribed to lower cholesterol. Fenofibrates could be an alternative or supplemental therapy. There has been a lack of data, however, showing how women with diabetes may respond to this medicine, a recent study suggests.

The study authors found, however, that women with diabetes may benefit from fenofibrates just as much as or even more than men.

"Ask your cardiologist about healthy ways to lower your cholesterol."

The study was led by Professor Anthony Keech, of the Clinical Trials Centre at the University of Sydney, Australia, and Associate Professor Michael d'Emden, with the Endocrine Research Unit at the Royal Brisbane Hospital in Australia.

Of the 9,795 study patients with Type 2 diabetes, 3,657 were women and 6,138 were men.

With Type 2 diabetes, the body resists the effects of insulin. Insulin helps cells use blood sugar.

Each day for five years, patients received either a 200-milligram dose of a fenofibrate or a placebo. Brand names of fenofibrate include Antara, Tricor and Trilipix.

The study authors observed that women appeared to benefit more from fenofibrates than men. Women taking the medicines had greater reductions in adverse blood fats and LDL, non-HDL and total cholesterol. Their levels of apolipoprotein B (the only protein component of LDL) also dropped more.

Females on fenofibrates cut their risk of heart-related death, fatal and non-fatal stroke, and carotid and coronary revascularization by 30 percent compared to those taking the placebo. Men taking the medicine had a 13 percent lower risk for such events.

The study authors also weighed the effectiveness of fenofibrate among those with very high triglyceride and low HDL cholesterol levels. These patients faced a very high chance of diabetes complications. Medicine cut the risk of heart problems by 30 percent in these women and 24 percent in men.

Both men and women had few side effects while using the medicine.

“These data provide reassurance about fenofibrate efficacy in both women and men with type 2 diabetes,” the authors wrote. “Both sexes with type 2 diabetes should be considered for fenofibrate therapy for cardioprotection."

The study was published Aug. 18 in Diabetologia.

The study was funded by Laboratoires Fournier (now part of Abbott Pharmaceuticals) and the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia. Authors disclosed that they received support from Solvay (now Abbott Pharmaceuticals).

Review Date: 
August 18, 2014
Last Updated:
August 19, 2014