Actos and Congestive Heart Failure

If you are one of the millions of diabetics and have been prescribed Actos, you might want to talk with your doctor and consider changing to another drug.  Better yet, get started on a lifestyle modification program.  Consider reading Mark Hyman’s book, “The Blood Sugar Solution“, see a knowledgeable doctor, and manage or get rid of your blood sugar issues.  Thanks to Alanna Ritchie and for this article.

Every day around the world, people are prescribed Actos — a drug that treats type 2 diabetes.

What some of them don’t know is that the popular medication — which grossed more than $4.6 billion in 2010 — carries with it an increased risk for congestive heart failure (CHF). CHF means the heart is not pumping strongly enough.

People with diabetes may also be dealing with heart disease and high blood pressure, which both can lead to CHF. The primary ways Actos causes CHF is through weight gain and edema, which occurs when fluid builds up in the body.

A Kaiser Permanente Northwest study showed that 7.7 percent of 9,591 diabetes patients developed CHF during a 30-month follow-up period after taking Actos.

Symptoms include chest pain; shortness of breath; fatigue; swelling in the abdomen, legs or feet; rapid heart rate; and a persistent cough. Doctors can use a chest X-ray, electrocardiogram (ECG) or echocardiogram to check for heart failure.

Because of the dangers associated with Actos, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has added multiple warnings to the drug’s label concerning Actos side effects.

2000: The label says patients with the functional classification of 3 and 4 heart failure should not take Actos.

2004: The label is strengthened to warn patients that Actos increases the risk of cancer and DNA damage.

2007: The label adds a black-box warning to tell patients that Actos increases the risk of heart failure.

Before prescribing Actos, the American Heart Association and American Diabetes Association recommend that doctors should:

  • Check for evidence of underlying cardiac disease.
  • Check if patient is taking drugs that may increase fluid retention.
  • Check if patient has shortness of breath due cardiac disease.
  • Check most recent patient ECG which can show risk factors for CHF.
  • Check if patient knows to report symptoms like weight gain, shortness of breath or fatigue.

In 2011, studies revealed that Actos also leads to an increased risk of Actos bladder cancer. Right after, Germany and France stopped selling Actos, but the FDA has chosen to wait and see what future studies reveal.

Alanna Ritchie is a writer for An English major, she is an accomplished technical and creative writer.

Marsha Nunley MD
Marsha Nunley MD
I am an internist, trained and experienced in Western Medicine, who believes that illness and disease are best treated by working to discover their underlying causes. Come to me for bioidentical hormones, advice on healthy aging, and whole-body medicine.