Treating diabetic patients with pioglitazone (Actos) helps prevent the progression of atherosclerosis, unlike the drug glimepiride (Amaryl), according to a randomized trial reported in the April 2 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. Led by Steven E. Nissen, MD, chairman of cardiovascular medicine at Cleveland Clinic, researchers found that after 18 months, patients (ages 35 to 85) taking glimepiride experienced increased atherosclerosis, while those on pioglitazone had no progression. Patients who took pioglitazone also saw greater improvements in blood pressure, high-density lipoproteins (HDL or "good cholesterol") and triglycerides compared to participants taking glimepiride. Patients in the Pioglitazone Effect on Regression of Intravascular Sonographic Coronary Obstruction Prospective Evaluation (PERISCOPE) trial were evaluated using an intravascular ultrasound. Dr. Nissen noted that PERISCOPE is the first study to show a diabetes therapy that slows or prevents progression of atherosclerosis.