Jardiance: Can a Diabetes Drug Treat Heart Failure?

Apr 19, 2023
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In 2022, a new medication treatment called Jardiance was approved by Health Canada for treating heart failure. This article will explain what Jardiance is, how it helps treat heart failure, and what to expect when taking this medication.

What is Jardiance?

Jardiance is a prescription medication that removes glucose (sugar) from the blood by getting rid of it in your urine. In people with heart failure, Jardiance helps keep the condition under control by decreasing the likelihood of hospitalization and death. Jardiance is used in addition to other standard of care medications for heart failure, and doesn’t replace other medications.

Jardiance is also known by its generic name, empagliflozin. It is usually taken once a day as an oral tablet.

Is Jardiance approved for treatment of heart failure?

Yes, Jardiance was approved by Health Canada for treating heart failure in 2022. In other countries like the United States and European Union countries, Jardiance has received similar approval. Although Jardiance was originally a diabetes medication, it can be used by heart failure patients with or without diabetes.

How does Jardiance help in heart failure?

Let’s take a step back and understand exactly what heart failure is. Normally, the heart is responsible for pumping blood to the rest of the body. In heart failure, the heart cannot do this well. Without good blood circulation, people with heart failure feel:

  • Tired
  • Short of breath
  • Bloated from fluid build-up in their limbs, especially in the legs and feet

Over time, symptoms can get progressively worse and lead to frequent hospitalizations and even death. 

Medications for heart failure, including Jardiance, keep symptoms under control and reduce the frequency of hospitalizations and the risk of death. Typically, a combination of several different medications together is considered the standard of care. Jardiance is part of this cocktail and doesn’t replace other heart failure medications you may already be taking. 

It isn’t completely understood how Jardiance helps heart failure. Some believe Jardiance removes extra fluid from blood, which in turn alleviates the work burden on the heart. Jardiance may also help heart failure by lowering blood pressure, decreasing inflammation in heart tissue, and preventing the heart structure from becoming abnormal.

In clinical trials, Jardiance decreased the chance of hospitalization for heart failure and death by about 20-25% compared to placebo.1,2

Can I use Jardiance for heart failure if I don’t have diabetes?

Yes, Jardiance has been found to be helpful for all patients with heart failure, whether or not they have diabetes. Given the way it works, there is very little chance that Jardiance would make your blood sugar excessively low.

What are the side effects of Jardiance?

Like all medications, Jardiance can cause side effects. The most common side effects include:

  • Urinary tract infections
  • Genital infections
  • Yeast infections
  • Low blood pressure

Jardiance works by helping extra glucose pass through urine, which means the extra sugar can promote bacteria growth in the urinary or genital tracts. You can tell you have an infection if you have pain when urinating, there’s an unusual colour or smell, you notice unusual discharges, or you have a fever. See your healthcare provider if you notice these symptoms, so they can provide you the right treatment.

When you pass extra glucose through urine, it also pulls along water molecules. This can make it easier for you to become dehydrated or have low blood pressure on Jardiance. If you are also taking a water pill like furosemide (Lasix) for heart failure, dehydration could be a particularly risky problem. Follow your doctor’s recommendations for monitoring yourself, for example by weighing yourself daily to check your water weight, and making adjustments.

In conclusion, Jardiance is a new treatment for heart failure that is also used to treat type 2 diabetes. In people with heart failure, Jardiance works by helping the kidneys remove excess glucose and fluid from the body through the urine. This can help to reduce the strain on the heart and improve overall heart function. In clinical trials, Jardiance is effective at reducing the risk of death and hospitalization in people with heart failure. It’s important to know that Jardiance is not a replacement for standard heart failure treatments and should be used in conjunction with other medications and lifestyle changes recommended by a healthcare provider.

1 Packer M, Anker SD, Butler J, Filippatos G, Pocock SJ, Carson P, Januzzi J, Verma S, Tsutsui H, Brueckmann M, Jamal W, Kimura K, Schnee J, Zeller C, Cotton D, Bocchi E, Böhm M, Choi DJ, Chopra V, Chuquiure E, Giannetti N, Janssens S, Zhang J, Gonzalez Juanatey JR, Kaul S, Brunner-La Rocca HP, Merkely B, Nicholls SJ, Perrone S, Pina I, Ponikowski P, Sattar N, Senni M, Seronde MF, Spinar J, Squire I, Taddei S, Wanner C, Zannad F; EMPEROR-Reduced Trial Investigators. Cardiovascular and Renal Outcomes with Empagliflozin in Heart Failure. N Engl J Med. 2020 Oct 8;383(15):1413-1424. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa2022190. Epub 2020 Aug 28. PMID: 32865377.

2 Anker SD, Butler J, Filippatos G, Ferreira JP, Bocchi E, Böhm M, Brunner-La Rocca HP, Choi DJ, Chopra V, Chuquiure-Valenzuela E, Giannetti N, Gomez-Mesa JE, Janssens S, Januzzi JL, Gonzalez-Juanatey JR, Merkely B, Nicholls SJ, Perrone SV, Piña IL, Ponikowski P, Senni M, Sim D, Spinar J, Squire I, Taddei S, Tsutsui H, Verma S, Vinereanu D, Zhang J, Carson P, Lam CSP, Marx N, Zeller C, Sattar N, Jamal W, Schnaidt S, Schnee JM, Brueckmann M, Pocock SJ, Zannad F, Packer M; EMPEROR-Preserved Trial Investigators. Empagliflozin in Heart Failure with a Preserved Ejection Fraction. N Engl J Med. 2021 Oct 14;385(16):1451-1461. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa2107038. Epub 2021 Aug 27. PMID: 34449189.

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