Diabetes treatment linked to increased blood pressure

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In animal studies, drugs under development caused increased heart rate and elevated blood pressure

Type II diabetes accounts for the majority of cases of the disease, and is a huge public health problem: As many as 16 million individuals in the United States have Type II diabetes, which puts them at risk for a number of serious complications, including stroke and heart disease. Although diabetes can often be controlled through diet, exercise and existing medications, the magnitude of the problem has given rise to the development of a number of new drugs to better manage the disease, including GLP-1 agonists. These agents, being tested in clinical trials, work by targeting the rate of gastric emptying and by stimulating insulin secretion from islet cells in the pancreas. However, recent research found that this group of drugs caused both increased heart rate and elevated blood pressure in animal studies. The study’s senior author was Joel Elmquist, a neuroscientist and endocrinologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and associate professor of neurology and medicine at Harvard Medical School. The study was funded by grants from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases and the National Institutes of Health.