People with type 2 diabetes who take
the weight-reducing medication Xenical(R) (orlistat) may significantly reduce
their long-term risk of coronary heart disease, according to a new study
presented here today at the American Heart Association's annual scientific
In the study, people with type 2 diabetes who took Xenical lowered their
estimated 10-year risk of heart disease by nearly 20 percent -- about the same
as people on Xenical who do not have diabetes -- despite losing 40 percent
fewer pounds than those who do not have diabetes. Although weight and weight
gain have been associated with greater heart disease risk, researchers suspect
that Xenical's ability to keep fats from being absorbed into the bloodstream
may be why Xenical was able to lower heart disease risk even with modest
amounts of weight loss.
"Weight loss is a healthy goal for everyone who is obese, but it's not
always easy for people with type 2 diabetes to lose weight," said lead
investigator Peter Wilson, MD, professor of medicine at Boston University
School of Medicine and director of laboratories, Framingham Heart Study.
"This study suggests a potential new way to help people with diabetes reduce
their chances of a heart problem - before it's too late."
Most doctors recommend weight loss for the nearly 100 million Americans
who are overweight, a condition that is associated with cardiovascular
disease. Being overweight also is associated with type 2 diabetes, a disease
that affects 15 million Americans. Until now, obese people with type 2
diabetes have faced an uphill battle because losing weight has been shown to
be more difficult in this condition.
The study also found that Xenical lowered the estimated risk of heart
disease significantly more than placebo in both diabetics and non-diabetics.
Weight loss also was significantly greater in people who took Xenical,
regardless of whether or not they had diabetes.
This study compared the results of two randomized, double blind,
placebo-controlled one-year trials that measured Xenical's effect on weight
loss and coronary heart disease risk in people with at least one risk factor
for heart disease. In one study, 242 people with type 2 diabetes took either
Xenical plus diet or placebo plus diet. All patients followed a
reduced-calorie diet, and also took a diabetes drug throughout the study to
control blood sugar levels. The second study compared Xenical with placebo in
1,074 people on reduced-calorie diets who did not have diabetes. Heart
disease risk was measured in both studies at the onset of the study and one
year after weight loss with Xenical plus diet or after diet alone according to
Framingham Heart Study calculations.