Improving Cognition in People with Diabetes and Heart Failure

The drug empagliflozin (Jardiance) was approved in 2014 for improving glucose control in adults with type 2 diabetes. In 2021, the drug was approved for reducing the risk of cardiovascular death and hospitalization in adults with heart failure. Now, in a study published online on March 21 in Diabetes Care, Gaetano Santulli, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues have shown that empagliflozin treatment significantly improves cognitive impairment in frail subjects with diabetes and heart failure compared with two other diabetes drugs.

The researchers studied 162 frail elderly patients with heart failure and diabetes enrolled at the “Sant’Angelo dei Lombardi” Hospital in Avellino, Italy, which specializes in treating elderly patients. At the start of the study, participants were divided into three groups, with each group receiving a different drug (metformin, insulin, or empagliflozin); all patients were administered a standard cognitive screening test as well as a test to assess physical frailty. One month after baseline assessments, patients treated with empagliflozin showed significant improvement in both cognitive and physical impairment compared with patients taking the other two drugs.

Dr. Santulli is an associate professor of medicine and of molecular pharmacology at Einstein.