Our bodies have to regulate many processes daily: temperature, hydration, mineral balance, sugar levels, and many more. When these regulating processes get out of whack, this can lead to diseases and other serious health complications. This is exactly what happens in diabetes, where specialized cells in our bodies lose their ability to sense blood sugar levels and how to adjust them.
Drugs, such as SGLT2 inhibitors, are prescribed to treat diabetes, helping the body decrease the amount of glucose in the blood. A research team from the University of Missouri School of Medicine may have just found another way this medication can be utilized to protect against one of the world’s biggest killers: heart disease.
“Cardiovascular disease is the main cause of death in older adults in the U.S.,” said Camila Manrique-Acevedo, MD, associate professor of medicine. “Weight loss, physical activity, antihypertensive therapy, and lipid-lowering drugs have shown variable effectiveness at improving blood vessel function and reducing arterial stiffness. But additional approaches are needed to improve vascular health in older adults.”
Blood vessels and aging
The team set out to evaluate blood vessel function and stiffness in 18 healthy human patients, ranging from 18 to 61. They found that the older patients had impaired endothelial function and increased aortic stiffness when compared to the younger patients.
“Our findings in young and older adults confirm previous clinical data demonstrating the impact of aging on blood vessel function and arterial stiffness,” Manrique-Acevedo said. “Importantly, we were able to replicate this data in a rodent model.”
How do SGLT2 inhibitors improve vascular health?
To test the potential impact of SGLT2 inhibitors, the team looked at the difference in vascular aging in mice whose diet was enriched in the drug and one that was not. After six weeks, the different groups were analyzed and it was found the mice with the drug added to their diet experienced improved blood vessel function, reduced arterial stiffness, and other vascular benefits.
As this is the first study to examine the role of SGLT2 inhibition in vascular aging, the group wants to conduct further clinical investigations to fully determine its impact. However, this study is a great start in finding an effective and needed treatment against heart disease.