Confusion over medication and link to heart disease

Nephrologist specialist Dr Amrish Krishnan. Picture: SUPPLIED/FT FILE

There appears to be some confusion over the diabetes medication metformin and its link to heart disease following the contradictory statements made by Health Minister Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete and kidney specialist Dr Amrish Krishnan.

Dr Krishnan, a renowned nephrologist, posted on his Twitter page that metformin was not harmful to patients with heart disease.

He said metformin was only stopped in patients with advanced kidney disease because of a rare condition which contributed to the buildup of excess acid.

“As a physician, let me reassure you that metformin is a very useful medicine,” Dr Krishnan tweeted.

“It is not contraindicated in cardiac disease,” he said.

“Metformin is only stopped in patients with advanced kidney disease because of the rare occurrence of lactic acidosis.”

He made the comments after Health Minister Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete informed Parliament last week that people with heart issues should not take metformin.

“Metformin has its side effects,” he had said while responding to a statement by National Federation Party leader Professor Biman Prasad on the shortage of medicine at health facilities, in particular metformin.

“If somebody in this House has a heart problem, please do not take metformin, it will make it worse.

“The safer medicines to take are glipizide, insulin, which is available in our health centres, hospitals and free medicine scheme.”

Dr Krishnan said it was imperative for diabetic patients to consult their own doctors before they made changes to their medications.

He said diabetes was the most debilitating disease affecting Fijians – causing blindness, kidney failure, amputations and increasing the risk of strokes and heart attacks.

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