February 29, 2016
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Calcium channel blockers may lower glucose levels in diabetes

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Lower fasting blood glucose levels may be linked to calcium channel blocker use, in particular with verapamil, in patients with diabetes, according to study findings published in Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice.

“This is a cross-sectional observational study unlike the current prospective randomized [University of Alabama at Birmingham] verapamil clinical trial, so we can’t infer causal relationship between using verapamil and lower glucose levels; but we can say there is an association with lower glucose levels, and that is absolutely encouraging,” Yulia Khodneva, MD, PhD, a research associate and postdoctoral scholar in the division of preventive medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said in a press release.

Khodneva and colleagues evaluated data from 1,484 participants of the REGARDS study to determine the links between calcium channel blockers, specifically verapamil, and fasting serum glucose; 29.6% of participants were calcium channel blocker users, and 3.4% used verapamil.

Compared with nonusers, participants on calcium channel blockers or verapamil were more likely to have hypertension, higher mean systolic blood pressure and a slightly larger waist circumference and were more likely to receive pharmacologic treatment for diabetes.

Calcium channel blocker users had 7.3 mg/dL lower fasting serum glucose, and verapamil users had 9.7 mg/dL lower fasting serum glucose compared with nonusers. After controlling for all covariates, verapamil users had 9.6 mg/dL lower blood glucose compared with nonusers. Glucose was 24.1 mg/dL lower among participants on verapamil and insulin or insulin-oral diabetic agents and 37.4 mg/dL lower among participants on verapamil and insulin alone compared with nonusers.

“The change in glucose for that group compared to those not taking verapamil — 37 mg/dL — is almost four times higher than when you look at the whole sample of diabetic adults,” Khodneva said in the release. “That made us think that verapamil is predominantly active for participants who have type 1 diabetes or those with type 2 diabetes who have really damaged beta cells. There seems to be something that works on the structural level, especially for those who have stronger beta-cell damage.” – by Amber Cox

Disclosure: Khodneva reports no relevant financial disclosures. Please see the full study for a list of all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.

“There seems to be something that works on the structural level, especially for those who have stronger beta-cell damage.”