In people with diabetes, the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood is high. Over time, having high blood sugar levels can result in damage to the blood vessels, which can then lead to heart disease. In fact, heart disease is among the top causes of sickness among patients with diabetes.
Although metformin is not prescribed to patients with type 1 diabetes, the Newcastle University researchers behind this study found that metformin may increase these patients' vascular stem cells, which can help slow or delay heart disease. These researchers also suggested these patients' blood vessels were repairing themselves.
"Metformin could routinely be used by patients with type 1 diabetes to help lower their chances of developing heart disease, by increasing a repair mechanism created by vascular stem cells released from the bone marrow," said lead study author Dr. Jolanta Weaver, of Newcastle University, in the press release.
This was a small study — researchers looked at around 23 patients who were then matched with nine patients within the same age range who were on standard insulin treatment and matched with 23 people who did not have diabetes. Still, these researchers said, their findings could be a promising step forward if reproduced in further research.
This study was published in the journal Cardiovascular Diabetology.
The Diabetes Research and Wellness Foundation and Diabetes Research Fund in Gateshead funded this research. The authors disclosed no conflicts of interest.