A new study has found that verapamil – used to treat high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat and migraine – can lower fasting glucose levels in diabetic patients. A cross-sectional observational study included 1,484 diabetic patients, 174 of whom were verapamil users.

Patients who took verapamil and insulin lowered their serum glucose levels by 37mg/dL, almost 4 times higher when looking at the entire sample of diabetes patients. A group of patients who solely took calcium channel blockers showed a serum glucose level decrease of 5mg/dL, compared to non users. Compared to calcium blocker non-users, verapamil users had an avergae 10mg/dL lower serum glucose. The verapamil, insulin and oral medication combo group had a decrease of 24mg/dL.

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The study’s authors hypothesize that verapamil can promote beta-cell mass in the pancreas – the cells that create insulin but are diminished in diabetes patients. “We can’t infer causal relationship between using verapamil and lower glucose levels,” said Yulia Khodneva MD, PhD, lead author of the study, “but we can say there is an association with lower glucose levels, and that is absolutely encouraging.”

The findings come from a University of Alabama Birmingham research paper, and will form part of a larger first-of-its-kind verapamil clinical trial. Previous research by the School of Medicine found that verapamil completely reversed diabetes in mice models. The trial began in January 2015 but the first results on Type 1 diabetes are still approximately 18 months away.

For more information visit The University of Alabama.