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Diabetes Heart Help Without Surgery

Diabetes Patients Reverse Silent Heart Threat With Medications
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Oct. 26, 2007 -- It may be possible for people with type 2 diabetes to reverse a heart threat without surgery, a new study shows.

The study included 358 people with type 2 diabetes who took stress tests to check their heart's health.

The stress tests showed that a fifth of the patients had silent myocardial ischemia. Translation: Those patients had no heart disease symptoms, but their heart muscle didn't get enough oxygen during the stress test.

Heart muscle needs oxygen, which it gets from blood. Blood flow to the heart muscle suffers if the coronary arteries narrow. Ischemia (and possibly a heart attack) can be the result.

The patients and their doctors were free to pick any ischemia treatment.

None of the patients got surgery, but they tended to start taking at least one of the following medications:

Three years after their initial stress test, the patients repeated the stress test.

The researchers expected that the patients' ischemia would have worsened. But they were wrong.

Of the 71 patients who had ischemia at the study's start, 56 patients (79%) no longer had ischemia three years later.

That finding was "striking and unexpected," write Yale University's Frans Wackers, MD, and colleagues.

The researchers aren't sure that the medications reversed ischemia.

For instance, the study doesn't show whether the patients also got serious about their diet and exercise after learning they had silent cardiac ischemia, or which medications helped most.

The surprising results deserve further research, Wackers and colleagues conclude.

Their study appears in the November edition of Diabetes Care.

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