Diabetes Forecast

Take Heart: Study Finds No Higher Risk of Heart Failure From Incretin-Based Diabetes Medicines

What to Know

Drugs based on the hormone incretin, which helps regulate insulin production and remove excess glucose from the blood, entered the market in 2006. These drugs raise blood levels of glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), which improves glucose control. While they are effective, some concerns remain about their effect on the heart. This study looked at whether these medications increase the risk of congestive heart failure (CHF) in people with type 2 diabetes.

The Study

Researchers in the U.K. reviewed the medical records of 1,118 people with type 2 diabetes who began taking diabetes drugs between 2007 and 2012. None had a history of CHF when they started taking the drugs but were later hospitalized for CHF. The researchers then looked at the type of medications each person took to determine if those taking incretin-based medications had a higher risk of CHF than those taking other medications.

The Results

The patients who took incretin-based medicines did not appear to have a greater risk of CHF than the patients on other diabetes medications.


Incretin-based drugs appear to be as safe for the heart as the other diabetes drugs reviewed in the study. However, larger studies need to be done to confirm this, as well as studies comparing incretin- based drugs to medications other than those in this study. Also, certain shortcomings of the study may have affected the results: this study was short, relied on records that might not have given a full picture of the medications the patients took, and did not account for the patients’ exercise or diet habits.

Incretin-based drugs and the risk of congestive heart failure, by Yu and colleagues. Diabetes Care 2015;38:277–284 https://doi.org/10.2337/dc14-1459

The information on this screen does not take the place of care from your doctor or other health care provider. If you have general questions about diabetes or diabetes-related research, e-mail askada@diabetes.org or call 1-800-DIABETES (800-342-2382).



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