A recent study suggests that metformin might be an effective treatment to heal against heart attacks for people with diabetes. This would be good news, as research shows that heart disease accounts for over half of all deaths for those with diabetes, and metformin is one of the most popular drugs prescribed to people with Type 2 diabetes.
Researchers in the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia used stem cells to simulate a heart attack in a lab. They learned that it’s vital for the recovering body to create new blood vessels to effectively heal after a heart attack. The researchers also found evidence that metformin enhances the body’s ability to grow new blood vessels, according to a press release.
This is why metformin might help with blood vessel growth – when the body has high glucose levels or is undergoing cardiac arrest, it can become oxygen deficient; this lack of oxygen can hinder the formation of new blood vessels. Metformin lowers blood glucose levels by increasing insulin sensitivity. The researchers hope to use this research to better understand how metformin might help and to create new treatments for heart disease for those with Type 2 who are unable to take metformin.
This benefit might be limited to people with Type 2 diabete, however. A 2013 study on people with heart disease but not diabetes found metformin did little to improve heart health for study participants.