In 2015, researchers began noticing that a drug used to treat Type 2 diabetes, empagliflozin, came with the added benefit of decreasing hospitalization for heart failure and death from cardiovascular causes in those patients.
“It was very unexpected, because this drug is targeted and marketed for Type 2 diabetes, not heart failure,” said Kim Ho, a pediatrics Ph.D. student in the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry and recipient of the 2020 Izaak Walton Killam Memorial Scholarship, one of the most prestigious awards for University of Alberta doctoral students.
“It was just such a huge finding, but how is this drug that works in the kidneys helping the heart?”
One of the leading theories, according to Ho, was that the diabetes drug increased ketone levels.
Ketone increases are more widely associated with a fad diet born out of an effective treatment for epilepsy—a high-fat, low carbohydrate food