Health Capsules

Diabetes drugs linked to heart disease risk

Intake of two common drugs to treat Type-2 diabetes carries a high risk of heart attack, stroke, heart failure or amputation, warns a new study. The two drugs, sulfonylureas and basal insulin, are the second-line medication after metformin, a widely accepted initial Type-2 diabetes treatment. The study, published in the journal JAMA Network Open, showed that patients who take one of these two drugs are 36 per cent more likely and twice as likely to experience cardiovascular harm. “Diabetics should be aware that the medications they are taking could lead to serious cardiovascular harm. This calls for a paradigm shift in the treatment of Type 2 diabetes,” says an expert. Physicians should consider prescribing newer classes of anti-diabetic drugs, such as GLP-1 agonists (liraglutide), SGLT-2 inhibitors (empagliflozin) or DPP-4 inhibitors (sitagliptin), more routinely after metformin, rather than sulfonylureas or basal insulin, suggest researchers. These drugs, however, are more expensive than the sulfonylureas, the main reason they are not as commonly prescribed. However, medical providers need to think about cardiovascular effects of these drugs early in the course of treatment, and shift prescribing patterns to newer drugs with more favourable cardiovascular profiles. This observational study used data from 132,737 patients with Type-2 diabetes who were starting second-line treatment. 

Take care of your eyes during winter

Dry, itchy eyes are a common problem in the winter due to low humidity. “In addition, most people turn on the heat in homes or offices to combat the cold. The drop in humidity, both outside and inside, causes dry conditions where moisture can evaporate from the eye faster than normal,” says a study. It highlighted ways to retain moisture, thereby combating dryness to the eyes in winter. Use a humidifier. Keep your body hydrated. It will help maintain moisture in eyes, says an expert. Avoid direct blow heating onto face. In cars, direct heat vents towards the lower body. Use eye protection outdoors to keep particles and wind from getting into eyes. Keep contact lenses clean. It reduces the risk of infection and itching, as eyes dry even more with contacts in winter.

‘Super drug’ for kids blood cancer soon 

A super drug that helps slow down the progression of blood cancer in kids could soon become a reality. Leukaemia patients have very low red blood cells, making them anaemic. They have almost 80 times more white blood cells than normal people. The survival rate is only 30 per cent for kids diagnosed with MLL-translocation leukaemia, a cancer affecting blood and bone marrow. “In next five to 10 years, we can get an effective drug. If we can bring that survival rate up to 85 per cent, that's a major accomplishment,” says an expert. The study, in the journal Genes and Development, showed that when a key protein responsible for leukaemia, MLL, is stabilised, it slows leukaemia’s progression. This stabilisation process could also work in cancers with solid tumours, such as breast or prostate cancer.  — Agencies