Liraglutide can improve blood sugar and reduce heart-related health complications.

Type 2 diabetes treatment liraglutide has been approved by the European Commission as suitable for improving blood sugar and reducing the risk of heart-related health complications.

The updated recommendation for Victoza (liraglutide) followed results from the Leader trial, which showed the treatment could significantly reduce the risk of heart-related health conditions, including heart attacks, in people with type 2 diabetes, regardless of whether or not they experienced an episode of severe hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar levels).

In the trial those treated with liraglutide experienced significantly fewer episodes of severe hypoglycaemia when compared to placebo.

While the risk of severe hypoglycaemia is considered relatively low in the first few years of being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes (7%), the risk increases to 25% later as the conditions progresses.   

Professor Steve Bain, who led the UK Leader trial and Assistant Medical Director for Research and Development for Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board and Clinical Lead for the Diabetes Research Unit, Wales, said: “For the majority of type 2 diabetes patients I see, how to minimise their risk of heart attack, stroke and cardiovascular disease is a serious consideration for their long-term health. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of mortality in patients with diabetes, accounting for almost two out of three diabetes-related deaths.

“We know that patients who experience severe hypoglycaemia are at an increased risk of cardiovascular complications. The study findings are important as clinicians have another option to consider with Victoza, as a treatment that has the potential to reduce the incidence of severe hypoglycaemia and reduce the cardiovascular risk for those who do experience this complication.

“Having appropriate treatment options available is crucial as considering a patient’s profile in a broader sense, not just focusing on glycaemic control, is becoming much more of a focus in clinical practice and having the means to individualise care is a must.”

In Europe, Victoza is recommended for the treatment of adults with poorly controlled type 2 diabetes together with diet and exercise, as treatment when metformin is not working.

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