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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Can diabetes medication cause heart failure?

    I have been taking medication for diabetes for several years now and I have recently read that medication to control diabetes can increase the risk of heart failure. Is this true?
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  • 1


    Carolien Koreneff

    Counsellor, Credentialled Diabetes Educator (CDE), Diabetes Educator, Psychotherapist, Registered Nurse

    Carolien Koreneff is a Somatic (body-oriented) psychotherapist, Health Coach, Counsellor as well as a Credentialed Diabetes Educator with over 20 years experience. She currently sees … View Profile

    Most medications for diabetes do not cause heart failure, heart failure is mostly a complication of diabetes, caused by the high sugars. Diabetes Medications are important to keep BGLs to target, so that complications such as heart disease may be avoided.
    In fact there are a number of diabetes medications that reduce the risk of heart disease; for example Metformin (also known as Diabex, Diaformin, Glucophage, to name just a few brand names) is one of these medications. Metformin has been proven to have cardio-protective properties.
    There was one type of medication that may have increased the risk of heart disease, the brand name is Avandia, also known as rosiglitazone. Avandia may cause oedema (fluid retention), which can put a strain on the heart. This medication was taken off the market in the USA and Europe and is not really prescribed in Australia anymore either, as far as I am aware. 
    Irrespective of the type of medication that you had prescribed, I suggest you do NOT stop taking any of your medications without consulting with your diabetes healthcare team of general practitioner first. Stopping medication without replacing them with something else could raise your BGLs which can increase your risk of complications (including heart disease).

  • 1


    Prof David Colquhoun

    Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

    Associate Professor David Colquhoun is a cardiologist who has been in private practice in Queensland for more than 30 years. He has been involved in … View Profile

    The short answer is no. It is suggested that one of the types of medication, the glitazones, may increase the risk of heart failure. However, in trials where the patients were managed by cardiologists, there was no increase in heart failure with the glitazones, and in fact there was prevention of heart attacks and strokes. So we can say quite confidently no medications to lower glucose cause heart failure. But diabetes not only causes blocked arteries, but impairs the heart muscle pump. So it's the disease itself, not the treatment.

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