Type 2 diabetes patients could have their risk of heart disease reduced by a drug used to reverse the effects of a paracetamol overdose, research has suggested.
Heart disease is a major reason behind the reduced life expectancy of those with diabetes.
Aspirin is usually used to prevent heart attacks, but it is less effective for those with diabetes before heart disease has been identified.
Professor Ian Megson from the University of the Highlands and Islands’ Department of Diabetes and Cardiovascular Science examined the drug N-acetylcysteine’s effect on blood platelets, which are an important component of blood clots.
Clots play a key role in causing heart attacks and some kinds of stroke.
Type 2 diabetes patients’ blood platelets have reduced reserves of glutathione, which is an antioxidant.
Researchers from the university found that daily doses of N-acetylcysteine brought platelet glutathione to normal levels and cut indicators of clot formation.
The licensed drug could potentially be used before heart damage is detected.
The Chief Scientist Office founded the Inverness team’s research into the drug N-acetylcysteine. Their findings have been published in the journal Diabetologia.