Anti-Anemia Drug Response And Heart Disease Risk In Diabetics

A recent study shows that diabetics with poor reaction to an anti-anemia drug may also experience higher risks of heart disease. Researchers at the UT Southwestern Medical Center found out that patients with diabetes, kidney problems as well as anemia who do not respond well to treatment using a drug called darbepoetin alpha also has a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and even death.

Darbepoetin alpha is a drug that stimulates the production of red blood cells in order to reverse the effects of anemia. It mimics the function of erythropoietin, the body’s natural hormone that stimulates red blood cell production. What the researchers found out was an unexpected result of the study regarding the said drug, sold under the name of Aranesp. The study, called Trial to Reduce Cardiovascular Events with Aranesp Therapy or TREAT, determined that darbepoetin alpha did not provide better results than using a placebo, but did lower the risk for blood transfusion and showed some modest improvement it outcomes among people with diabetes, kidney disease and anemia. But the study also found out that people who took darbepoetin alpha also has two times the risk of stroke as well as cancer deaths.

The study involved 4,038 participants with diabetes, anemia and kidney damage that did not require dialysis. 1,872 of the participants received injections of the anti-anemia drug while 1,889 received placebo injections. The researchers then further divided the participants who took darbepoetin alpha into two groups- those who initially responded well to the said drug and those who didn’t.

The participants who showed a poor initial response to the drug had a higher rate of death, heart attack as well as stroke and heart failure. The results of the study may provide some doctors better insight of considering customizing anemia treatment for different patients. Since those who didn’t initially respond well to the drug experienced higher cardiovascular risk and death, doctors may then be able to decide to seek other alternative and more effective treatments to reduce further risk to patients.

Source: UT Southwestern Medical Center. “Diabetes: Poor response to anti-anemia drug predicts higher risk of heart disease or death.” ScienceDaily 30 December 2010. 4 January 2011 <http://www.sciencedaily.comĀ­ /releases/2010/12/101229124246.htm>.


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