Diabetes drug may prevent recurrence of stroke

New York, Feb 18 (IANS) A drug used for Type-2 diabetes may prevent recurrent stroke and heart attacks in people with insulin resistance but without diabetes, new research has found.

Insulin resistance is a condition in which the body produces insulin but does not use it effectively.

The drug called “Pioglitazone” targets cell metabolism and may prevent secondary strokes and heart attacks even before diabetes develops, the study said.

The finding suggest a potential new method to prevent stroke and heart attack in high-risk patients who have already had one stroke or transient ischemic attack.

“This study represents a novel approach to prevent recurrent vascular events by reversing a specific metabolic abnormality thought to increase the risk for future heart attack or stroke,” said Walter Koroshetz, director of US National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) that supported the study.

The results of the Insulin Resistance Intervention after Stroke (IRIS) trial was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

More than 3000 patients from seven countries who had experienced an ischemic stroke or transient ischemic attack within the previous six months were randomised to receive pioglitazone or placebo for up to five years in addition to standard care.

In this study, stroke or heart attack occurred in nine percent of participants taking pioglitazone and 11.8 percent of patients on placebo, which was a relative decrease of 24 percent.

The results suggest that 28 strokes or heart attacks may be prevented for every 1,000 patients who take pioglitazone for up to five years.

Insulin resistance is a hallmark of Type-2 diabetes but also occurs in more than 50 percent of people with ischemic stroke who do not have diabetes. People with diabetes are known to have increased risk of stroke.

Pioglitazone also reduced the risk of diabetes by 52 percent in the study participants, the study said.

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