Sulfonylureas - oral diabetes drugs - are associated with heart failure and death risks


Individuals with Type II diabetes are 2-4 times more likely to die of heart disease, and also 2-4 times more likely to have a stroke. Heart disease and stroke together account for 84% of diabetes-related deaths.1

Type II, or insulin-resistant, diabetes may be treated with a number of different drugs. The class of drugs called sulfonylureas work by stimulating the pancreas to produce more insulin. Sulfonylureas are used either alone or in conjunction with other diabetic medications.

Studies have found that certain diabetes drugs may carry increased cardiovascular risks compared to others. A study of over 90,000 type 2 diabetics compared the cardiovascular effects in individuals treated with either metformin or sulfonylureas. These researchers found an increased likelihood of death from any cause in the patients treated with sulfonylureas (24-61% increased risk depending on the specific drug), and also an increased risk of congestive heart failure (18-30%).2

These results strengthen the similar findings a 2006 study and an earlier 2009 study3 comparing mortality risk between patients treated with metformin and sulfonylureas, confirming sulfonylureas should be avoided if possible..

The reason why doctors have to rely on all these dangerous medications is because they do not address the problem straight on.  Diabetes is primarily a disease of dietary ignorance and lack of physical fitness.

Simply controlling blood glucose with medications does not remove the causes of type 2 diabetes – physical inactivity and excess weight from a calorie-rich, nutrient-poor diet. Excess body fat blocks insulin function and forces the pancreas to overproduce insulin. Over time, the overworked pancreas “poops out.”  Giving drugs to force the already overworked pancreas to work even harder only makes the insulin-producing cells die off faster.  If you are still eating the same disease-causing diet you will likely gain even more weight, obtain other cardiovascular risk factors, and possibly become insulin dependent. 

The best way for Type II diabetics to protect themselves from cardiovascular complications is to become non-diabetic – to slowly reduce their dependence on diabetes drugs. Exercise and nutritional excellence (which will inevitably result in weight loss) can achieve this goal in 90% of patients.

Diabetes is caused by poor diet and sedentary lifestyle, and it can be reversed with nutritional excellence and exercise. If you have Type II diabetes or know someone who does, don’t just treat your diabetes or control your diabetes, join the hundreds who have recovered and gotten rid of it! 




2. Tzoulaki I et al. Risk of cardiovascular disease and all cause mortality among patients with type 2 diabetes prescribed oral antidiabetes drugs: retrospective cohort study using UK general practice research database. BMJ. 2009 Dec 3;339:b4731. doi: 10.1136/bmj.b4731.

3. Pantalone KM et al. The risk of developing coronary artery disease or congestive heart failure, and overall mortality, in type 2 diabetic patients receiving rosiglitazone, pioglitazone, metformin, or sulfonylureas: a retrospective analysis. Acta Diabetol. 2009 Jun;46(2):145-54. Epub 2009 Feb 5.