Antiviral Treatment for Diabetes Patients with Hepatitis C Virus Improves Cardiovascular and Kidney Outcomes

Results from an eight-year study in Taiwan demonstrated that antiviral treatment for hepatitis C virus infection is associated with improved renal and cardiovascular outcomes in diabetic patients.

Antiviral therapy for hepatitis C virus (HCV) improves kidney and cardiovascular outcomes for patients with diabetes, according to the results of a study published in Hepatology. Researchers from Taiwan concluded that occurrences of kidney disease, stroke, and heart attack were lower in patients treated with pegylated interferon and ribavirin compared to HCV patients not treated with antivirals, or diabetic patients not infected with the virus.

“There is growing evidence of an association between diabetes and HCV,” Chun-Ying Wu, MD, PhD, MPH, from Taichung Veterans General Hospital in Taiwan, lead author, explained in a press release. “Our study investigates if antiviral therapy used to treat HCV infection also improves diabetes outcomes.”

The researchers collected data from the Taiwan National Health Insurance Research Database, which has healthcare records for each resident of the country since 1997. The group found 1,411 patients with diabetes and HCV who were then enrolled in the study and received pegylated interferon and ribavirin. There were also an additional 1,411 individuals in the untreated group. Another 5,644 patients with diabetes but without HCV were also examined. Follow-ups were conducted for all participants from 2003 to 2011.

Over the course of the eight-year study, incidences of end-stage renal disease in the treated, untreated, and uninfected groups were 1.1%, 9.3%, and 3.3%, respectively. Stroke incidence in the three groups was 3.1%, 5.3%, and 6.1%, respectively. Acute coronary syndrome, which encompasses a variety of heart diseases, occurred in 4.1%, 6.6%, and 7.4% of the treated, untreated, and uninfected patients.

“Our findings suggest that HCV may cause clinical complications related to diabetes. But these issues are mitigated by HCV antiviral therapy, specifically pegylated interferon plus ribavirin, which was found to reduce risks of kidney disease, stroke and cardiovascular diseases in diabetic patients,” concluded Wu in the press release.