Doing a blood glucose level test – treatment with Bezafibrate reduced incidences of diabetes by thirty percent and delays its onset by one year.A new Israeli research study has opened a new avenue for preventing diabetes – one of the fastest-growing diseases in the United States.
Carried out by cardiologists, the research showed that the drug Bezafibrate, a form of medication which is designed to reduce triglycerides in blood, and increase HDL (the “good” cholesterol) also causes a significant decrease in the incidence of Type 2 diabetes, the most prevalent form of the disease.
The research was the result of collaboration between the Heart Institute and the Cardiac Rehabilitation Center, part of the Chaim Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer, and carried out by cardiologists at Sheba.
The discovery of the beneficial effects of the drug substantially widens the option of the treatment possibilities for prevention of diabetes.
Bezafibrate is already recognized as effective in reducing blood glucose levels in people with overt diabetes. But this study is the first to clearly mark the drug as an effective tool for prevention as well.
The Sheba study involved 303 research subjects who, although they have not been diagnosed with diabetes, were at high risk for the disease, due to a history of heart attack or heart-related chest pain (angina) or both. They all had fasting blood glucose levels in the high range but were not being treated for diabetes.
The patients were observed for a period of six years, with half of them medicated with Bezafibrate, and the other half receiving a placebo.
Among the 156 patients randomly assigned to treatment with Bezafibrate, fasting blood glucose levels declined during the first year, but this did not happen among the 147 assigned to a control group. Blood sugar levels then remained lower in the treatment group in following years.
New-onset diabetes was diagnosed in 54 percent of the control group and 42 percent of the Bezafibrate group, and the average time until diabetes started was 3.8 years and 4.6 years, respectively.
After the results of the research had been analyzed, senior researchers, Dr. Alexander Tannenbaum from the Cardiac Rehabilitation Institute, headed by Prof. Ehud Shvementhal, and Prof. Shlomo Bachar, the head of the research headquarters, concluded that treatment with Bezafibrate reduced incidences of diabetes by thirty percent and delays its onset by one year.
Their research suggests that the benefit of the drug is similar to that achieved with anti-diabetes medication.
Tannenbaum said that he has already incorporated the new medication into the regimen of his at-risk patients, and expects that other physicians in his field will do so as word of the study is circulated.
“In light of the study results, it seems logical and very simple,” he told ISRAEL21c. “When we began the study, we expected to see benefits from the treatment, but when the results came in, we were surprised by the magnitude of benefits – they were very strong – and it is very promising.”
According to Tannenbaum, among the major explanations for the research findings is the fact that, in addition to improving the lipid profile, medication with Bezafibrate appears to have been beneficial to insulin uptake.
Tannenbaum believes that it will soon become clear that the best way to prevent diabetes is a combination of increased physical exercise, weight loss, and medication with drugs meant to reduce the blood glucose level and lipid profile. Until now, the main treatment for diabetes was to lower blood glucose levels alone.
The results of the study were published in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation, and have been widely publicized in the medical community around the world. According to Tannenbaum, the results of their work is in the process of being incorporated into the curricula of medical schools and continuing medical education in the United States.
One of the major problems facing modern medicine is the growing prevalence of Type II diabetes, which is one of the major risk factors for cardiac disease and other life-threatening conditions.
According to the Center for Disease Control, diabetes affects more than 17 million Americans and contributes to over 200,000 deaths a year. Diabetes can cause heart disease, stroke, blind-ness, kidney failure, leg and foot amputations, pregnancy complications, and deaths related to influenza and pneumonia. About 5.9 million Americans are unaware they have the disease.
Among U.S. adults, diagnosed diabetes increased 61% since 1991 and is projected to more than double by 2050.
Type 2 affects 90%-95% of people with diabetes and is linked to obesity and physical inactivity. More than 18% of adults older than age 65 have diabetes. The direct and indirect costs of diabetes are nearly $132 billion a year. The average health care cost for a person with diabetes in 2002 was $13,243, compared with $2,560 for a person without diabetes.