Researchers Find Sulfonylureas Don’t Pose a Cardiovascular Risk

A review finds this drug class is safe and effective, as well as cheap.



If you watch cable TV, you likely know that there are many new drug brands available to treat Type 2 diabetes. However, a recent study suggests that an older class of drugs might still be a safe and effective tool to help manage blood sugar levels.

Some researchers had questioned whether sulfonylureas, a class of Type 2 diabetes drugs available since the 1950’s, were safe to use. There had been some concern that use of the drugs could increase the risk of cardiovascular complications, including heart attack and stroke. A new review of research on sulfonylureas suggests that the benefits of these drugs outweigh the risks, and that such fears are overblown

Sulfonylureas are an inexpensive group of drugs used to treat Type 2 diabetes in adults. This class of drug can be taken in addition with metformin to assist in blood sugar control. Sulfonylureas work by increasing when the pancreas releases insulin. Some of the side effects associated with sulfonylureas are weight gain and potential low blood sugar.


There has been debate in the past that sulfonylureas also contributed to cardiovascular disease. Brazilian researchers tested this by conducting a systematic review of 47 randomized controlled trials of sulfonylureas; the trials included 37,650 patients. The review found that the low cost of sulfonylureas and the benefits of improved control of blood sugar levels outweighed the risk of potential weight gain or low blood sugar from use of the drug. Researches also found that there was no significant risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, or death for those taking sulfonylureas.

The large sample size of this review adds weight to the findings that sulfonylureas could prove a valuable asset in the fight against Type 2 diabetes.

You can find a list of sulfonylureas brands here.

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Ashley Lambert is a recent Suffolk University graduate. While at Suffolk she studied communication and media studies.