Scientists at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai published an exciting study in the Journal of American College of Cardiology this month. They discovered that the drug empagliflozin (also known by its brand name JARDIANCE) can reverse heart failure in non-diabetic animal subjects. Empagliflozin is typically used to treat diabetes.
While this experiment hasn’t been tested in humans, there is potential for empagliflozin to “save lives, and improve quality of life[,]” says Dr. Juan Badimon, the lead author.
Heart Disease in America
This discovery can be a breakthrough in preventing one of America’s leading causes of death: heart disease.
According to the CDC, about 610,000 people die per year due to heart disease. Approximately one in four people will die of heart disease. Risk factors for developing heart conditions include chronic diseases like diabetes and lifestyle factors like excessive alcohol consumption.
Types of heart diseases include:
- Stable and unstable angina
- Congestive heart failure
- Arrhythmias, such as atrial fibrillation (A-Fib) and ventricular fibrillation
What is heart failure?
Heart failure can happen to anyone, including children and both men and women. It is also quite common, affecting about 5.7 million Americans.
While it may sound scary, heart failure doesn’t mean your heart has stopped working. Rather, it refers to your heart’s inability to pump enough blood for your body. This usually means the heart doesn’t fill up with enough blood. Or, the heart may lack the necessary force to pump blood throughout the body.
Heart failure often results from heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Left untreated, it can be fatal.
Empagliflozin is a diabetes medication used to lower blood sugar levels in patients with type 2 diabetes (it is not used to treat type 1 diabetics). Empagliflozin works by inducing the kidney to filter out more glucose through urine. Typically, empagliflozin is taken once a day by mouth in the morning. As with most other drugs, it can cause side effects in some patients.
Empagliflozin, however, is not a cure for diabetes. Patients must combine drug treatment with lifestyle changes such as eating healthier, exercising more, and quitting smoking.
Currently, the retail price for a month’s supply of JARDIANCE is $492.85 for uninsured patients in the United States. This is not a negligible amount of money, so even if JARDIANCE proves effective against heart failure, many patients who lack insurance will have trouble accessing a life-saving drug.
To overcome this problem, some patients shop outside the United States for their medications. While this once involved road-tripping across borders, now, American patients can buy prescription medication like JARDIANCE online from international and Canadian pharmacy referral websites. Patients can then access medicine from licensed pharmacies in countries with stricter price controls, shipped directly to their door.
Preventing Heart Disease
Of course, the most cost-effective and natural way to prevent needing empagliflozin for heart failure is to prevent or delay heart disease from developing. This is especially true for people who are at increased risk of developing heart failure, such as those who have high blood pressure or diabetes.
Some things you can do to prevent heart disease include:
- Quitting smoking
- Avoiding alcohol and drugs
- Engaging in regular physical activity
- Eating a heart-friendly diet
- Managing stress
- Losing weight, if necessary
In conclusion, it is indeed exciting that we may already have an effective drug that fights heart failure. However, this doesn’t negate the fact that heart disease is a leading cause of death. All the more reason to live a healthy lifestyle to prevent or delay it.