Mya Care Blogger 23 Apr 2024

Empagliflozin, commercially known as Jardiance, is at the forefront of contemporary type 2 diabetes management. The prevalence of type 2 diabetes has been a growing concern globally, with the World Health Organization reporting a significant increase in cases over the past few decades. As of the last review, an estimated 422 million adults were living with diabetes worldwide, underscoring the critical need for effective management strategies for this chronic condition.

Empagliflozin operates through a novel mechanism of action distinct from traditional diabetes medications. It belongs to a class of drugs known as sodium-glucose cotransporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitors. These medications work by preventing glucose reabsorption in the kidney, leading to the excretion of excess glucose through urine.

Empagliflozin and Jardiance refer to the same medication. Jardiance is the brand name under which empagliflozin is marketed. It has been approved by regulatory authorities for the treatment of type 2 diabetes and has demonstrated effectiveness in lowering the risk of cardiovascular death in individuals with existing cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. This dual action-glycemic control and cardiovascular risk reduction-positions empagliflozin as a significant player in the diabetes therapeutic landscape, offering a multifaceted approach to managing a complex and multifactorial disease.

Type 2 Diabetes

Insulin resistance and high blood sugar levels are hallmarks of type 2 diabetes, a chronic medical condition. It develops when the body becomes less sensitive to insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas that allows cells to absorb glucose from the bloodstream for energy.

In the initial stages, the pancreas compensates for this resistance by producing more insulin. Eventually the bloodstream becomes full of glucose as a result of the pancreas’ inability to sustain high Insulin levels over time.

The pathophysiology of type 2 diabetes is multifaceted, involving genetic predisposition, lifestyle factors such as poor diet and physical inactivity, and metabolic dysfunction. These factors contribute to the impaired ability of insulin to effectively lower blood glucose levels, resulting in chronic hyperglycemia.

Uncontrolled blood sugar levels in diabetics can cause a host of complications that affect different organ systems. Short-term consequences include symptoms such as excessive thirst, frequent urination, fatigue, and blurred vision. However, it is the long-term complications that pose significant risks to health, including:

  • Cardiovascular Disease: Diabetes significantly raises the risk of a number of cardiovascular issues, such as atherosclerosis, strokes, heart attacks, and coronary artery disease with angina (chest discomfort).
  • Nerve Damage (Neuropathy): Excess sugar can damage the walls of the little blood arteries (capillaries) that supply your nerves, particularly in the lower limbs. Tingling, numbness, burning, or discomfort may result from this.
  • Kidney Damage (Nephropathy): Millions of microscopic clusters of blood vessels make up the kidneys, which filter waste from your blood. Kidney failure or end-stage renal disease can result from damage to this sensitive filtering mechanism caused by diabetes.
  • Eye Damage: Diabetes can harm the retina's blood vessels, which may result in blindness, and raise the chance of developing major eye conditions including glaucoma and cataracts.
  • Foot Damage: Various foot complications are more likely to happen when there is inadequate blood supply to the feet or nerve injury to the feet. Blisters and cuts can develop into dangerous infections if left untreated, necessitating the amputation of a toe, foot, or leg.

Controlling blood sugar levels through medication, lifestyle changes, and regular monitoring is crucial in managing type 2 diabetes and preventing these potential complications.

How SGLT2 Inhibitors and Empagliflozin Work?

Sodium-glucose cotransporter-2 (SGLT2) inhibitors represent a revolutionary approach in the treatment of type 2 diabetes.

SGLT2 is a protein found in the kidneys that facilitates the reabsorption of glucose from the urine back into the bloodstream. In people without diabetes, this process helps to conserve glucose, a valuable energy source. However, in the context of type 2 diabetes, where blood glucose levels are already elevated, this reabsorption contributes to the persistence of high blood sugar.

SGLT2 inhibitors work by blocking the action of the SGLT2 protein, thereby inhibiting the reabsorption of glucose in the kidneys. As a result, excess glucose is excreted through the urine, leading to a reduction in blood glucose levels. This mechanism not only lowers blood sugar but does so in a way that is independent of insulin, offering a significant advantage for people whose body's ability to use insulin is impaired.

Empagliflozin Mechanism Of Action

Empagliflozin's mechanism of action is significant because it does not directly affect insulin production or sensitivity. Instead, it bypasses the complexities related to insulin dynamics by facilitating glucose removal through a completely different route. This aspect of empagliflozin's action makes it a valuable option for people with type 2 diabetes, especially those who may not achieve optimal glucose control with other medications.

Who Can Take Empagliflozin?

In addition to diet and exercise, adults with type 2 diabetes may be prescribed empagliflozin to improve glycemic control. It is particularly beneficial for patients who need to manage their blood sugar levels but may not be candidates for medications that rely on insulin secretion or action due to various reasons, such as a risk of hypoglycemia or insufficient pancreatic insulin production.

Additionally, empagliflozin is also seen as a suitable option for patients with coexisting conditions. However, like any medication, empagliflozin is not suitable for everyone.

It is not recommended for treating diabetic ketoacidosis or for those with type 1 diabetes. Because the drug's mechanism of action involves the kidneys, empagliflozin is not advisable for patients with end-stage renal disease, severe renal impairment, or those undergoing dialysis. .

To make sure empagliflozin is a safe and suitable option for them, patients should talk to their healthcare practitioner about their general health, medical history, and any other medications they are taking.

Exploring the Benefits of Empagliflozin

Empagliflozin, a distinguished member of the SGLT2 inhibitor class, has garnered attention not only for its effectiveness in lowering blood sugar levels but also for its broader health benefits, particularly in cardiovascular health and weight management.

Does Empagliflozin Reduce Diabetes-Related Blindness?

While empagliflozin primarily targets blood sugar control and cardiovascular risks, its direct impact on reducing diabetes-related blindness is less straightforward. Diabetic retinopathy and other long-term consequences of elevated blood sugar levels are common causes of diabetes-related blindness.

By effectively managing blood sugar levels, empagliflozin may indirectly contribute to lowering the risk of such complications. However, complete diabetes management, which includes routine eye exams and control of other risk factors, such as hypertension and hyperlipidemia, is necessary to prevent diabetes-related blindness.

Beyond Blood Sugar Control

Empagliflozin's benefits extend significantly beyond glycemic management, particularly in areas such as:

  • Reduced Risk of Cardiovascular Events: The drug's cardiovascular benefits are partly attributed to its effects on heart and vascular function, including improvements in arterial stiffness, blood pressure, and heart failure outcomes. It is believed to reduce cardiovascular mortality by improving cardiac energy metabolism, reducing cardiac preload and afterload, and possibly through direct effects on cardiac and vascular tissues.
  • Empagliflozin in Heart Failure: Notably, empagliflozin has demonstrated efficacy in treating heart failure, including in patients with a preserved ejection fraction—a condition where the heart muscle contracts normally but the ventricles do not fill with enough blood. This is a significant advancement since managing heart failure with preserved ejection fraction has been challenging with limited treatment options.
  • Weight Loss: In certain cases, empagliflozin has been linked to weight loss. This effect is thought to result from the excretion of glucose in the urine, which also means the excretion of calories, leading to a reduction in body weight.
  • Lower Blood Pressure: Some patients taking empagliflozin may experience a reduction in blood pressure. This effect is likely due to the diuretic-like action of the medication, leading to a decrease in blood volume and, consequently, blood pressure.

Who Can Benefit from Empagliflozin?

Various groups of patients can benefit from its use, whether as a monotherapy or in combination with other treatments.

Type 2 Diabetes Management

Empagliflozin is primarily approved for use in individuals with type 2 diabetes to enhance glycemic control. This is particularly relevant for people who struggle to manage their blood sugar levels through diet, exercise, and other medications alone. Empagliflozin’s ability to reduce blood sugar levels independently of insulin action makes it a valuable option for those with insulin resistance, a hallmark of type 2 diabetes. It is suitable for a broad spectrum of patients, from those newly diagnosed who need to augment lifestyle modifications to those with more advanced disease who require additional therapeutic agents to maintain glycemic control.

Combination Therapy

Empagliflozin can also play a critical role as part of combination therapy, which involves using multiple medications to manage type 2 diabetes. For individuals who cannot control their blood sugar levels with a single medication, this approach is often necessary. Combining empagliflozin with other diabetes treatments, such as metformin, sulfonylureas, or insulin, can provide several benefits:

  • Synergistic Effect: Different classes of diabetes medications work through various mechanisms. When empagliflozin is used in combination with other drugs, it can lead to a synergistic effect, providing a more comprehensive management of blood sugar levels. For instance, while empagliflozin facilitates the excretion of glucose through urine, metformin reduces glucose production in the liver, and insulin therapies help improve glucose uptake by the body’s cells.
  • Customizable Treatment Plans: The use of empagliflozin in combination therapy allows healthcare providers to customize treatment plans for each patient, considering factors like the extent of blood sugar control required, patient tolerance to medications, and the presence of other health conditions.
  • Improved Patient Outcomes: By leveraging the strengths of multiple medications, combination therapy can improve overall glycemic control, reducing the risk of diabetes-related complications. Moreover, some combinations may help mitigate the side effects associated with individual drugs or even provide supplementary health benefits, such as weight loss or reduced blood pressure, which are particularly beneficial in the diabetic population.

Comparing Empagliflozin to Other Diabetes Medications

Empagliflozin offers a distinct approach to managing type 2 diabetes, marking a departure from the mechanisms of action seen in other antidiabetic agents. Here’s how it compares:

  • Mechanism of Action: Unlike traditional diabetes medications such as metformin, which decreases glucose production in the liver, or insulin therapies that increase glucose uptake by the body's cells, empagliflozin works by blocking the reabsorption of glucose in the kidneys. This leads to the excretion of glucose through the urine, lowering blood sugar levels in a manner that does not directly rely on insulin.
  • Side Effects: Empagliflozin's side effect profile is also distinct. Urinary tract infections and vaginal yeast infections are frequent adverse effects that are linked to elevated urine glucose levels. This contrasts with the risk of hypoglycemia associated with insulin therapies or gastrointestinal disturbances often seen with metformin.

What should I discuss with my doctor before taking empagliflozin?

Empagliflozin may not be suitable for everyone, especially those with certain health conditions. It is important to talk to your doctor about your medical history and current health condition before using empagliflozin. Key considerations include:

  • Medical Conditions: Inform your doctor if you have issues like dehydration, a low-salt diet, recent diarrhea, frequent alcohol consumption, high cholesterol, elevated potassium levels, pancreatitis, chronic kidney disease or liver disease, low blood pressure, or if you are on hemodialysis. Conditions like infections, a history of amputation, or circumcision status in males can also influence suitability.
  • Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: If you are breastfeeding, intend to get pregnant, or are already pregnant, discuss with your doctor. The effects of empagliflozin on fertility, pregnancy, and breastfeeding are important considerations due to potential risks to the mother and the fetus or infant.
  • Surgery: Before surgery, empagliflozin may need to be halted to lower the risk of problems like dehydration or ketoacidosis. According to your surgical schedule, your healthcare practitioner will advise you on when to temporarily stop using it.

Empagliflozin Side Effects, Risk, and Complications

Empagliflozin, while a powerful tool in managing type 2 diabetes and offering benefits beyond glycemic control, has its share of potential side effects and risks as well.

Common Side Effects

The mechanism of empagliflozin, which involves excreting excess glucose through the urine, can lead to several side effects, including:

  • Genital Yeast Infections: Higher urine glucose levels put both men and women at risk by fostering an environment for yeast growth.
  • Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs): The presence of excess glucose in the urine can also promote bacterial growth, leading to UTIs.

When to See a Doctor

If you encounter any of the following, it is important to get in touch with your healthcare professional, as they may indicate serious complications or infections:

  • New Pain, Sores, or Ulcers on Your Legs or Feet: These symptoms can signal poor circulation or an infection, requiring prompt medical attention.
  • Infection, Redness, or Pain in the Genitals: Any unusual symptoms in the genital area, possibly indicating a severe yeast or bacterial infection, should be evaluated by a healthcare provider.
  • Dehydration Symptoms: Such as feeling very thirsty, dry mouth, urinating less often than usual, or having dark-colored urine. Dehydration is a risk with empagliflozin due to increased urination.

Monitoring for Complications

While taking empagliflozin, it is vital to be vigilant for signs of more severe complications, including:

  • Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA): A rare but serious condition that can occur even if blood sugar levels are not very high. Symptoms to watch for include dry mouth, fatigue, a fruity odor to the breath, trouble breathing, stomach pain, nausea, and vomiting. Immediate medical attention is necessary if DKA is suspected.
  • Risk of Amputation: There is an increased risk of lower limb amputation (toes, feet) associated with empagliflozin, particularly in patients with prior amputations, peripheral vascular disease, neuropathy, and diabetic foot ulcers. Regular foot examinations and maintaining good foot hygiene are crucial.
  • Fournier's Gangrene: An extremely rare but life-threatening bacterial infection affecting the genital area or perineum. A fever or overall feeling of malaise are among the symptoms, which may also include genital soreness, redness or swelling, as well as swelling in the area from the genitalia back to the rectum. Immediate medical intervention is required.

Practical Considerations for Taking Empagliflozin

Empagliflozin, a leading medication for type 2 diabetes, requires attention to detail in terms of dosing, administration, and lifestyle considerations to ensure effectiveness and safety. Here are key practical aspects to keep in mind:

Dosage and Administration

Empagliflozin is usually started at a dose of 10 mg once daily in the morning, with or without meals, making it convenient for patients to incorporate into their daily routine. The dose may be raised to 25 mg per day based on the patient's response and tolerance.

What to Do if You Miss a Dose

If you miss a dose of empagliflozin, take it as soon as you remember on the same day. However, skip the missed dose and go back to your usual schedule if your next dose is soon due. Do not take two doses at the same time to make up for the missed one.

What to Do in Case of Overdose

Seek emergency medical attention if you overdose. Overdosing on empagliflozin can lead to its side effects, such as dehydration or ketoacidosis becoming more pronounced.

What to Avoid When Taking Empagliflozin

  • Alcohol: Consumption should be limited as it can increase the risk of dehydration or hypoglycemia.
  • Other Medications: All of your prescriptions, including over-the-counter drugs and vitamins, must be disclosed to your doctor since some drugs may interfere with the action of empagliflozin.

Is Empagliflozin Approved for Children?

Empagliflozin is not approved for use in children. The safety and effectiveness of empagliflozin in pediatric patients have not been established.

Importance of Regular Check-ups

It is essential to schedule routine check-ups with your healthcare practitioner to keep an eye on your kidney function, blood sugar levels, and any possible side effects. These check-ups allow for adjustments to the treatment plan as necessary to ensure optimal control of diabetes.

Dietary Considerations

While taking empagliflozin, maintaining adequate hydration is vital due to the increased risk of dehydration. Discuss with your healthcare provider any necessary dietary adjustments, particularly concerning carbohydrates and sugar intake, to manage your diabetes effectively. A healthy, nutrient-dense, and diet low in processed food can support your diabetes management.

Taking Empagliflozin with Metformin

Empagliflozin can be taken with metformin. This combination is often prescribed as it targets different mechanisms of action for better blood sugar control. Empagliflozin enhances the kidneys' excretion of glucose, whereas metformin decreases the liver's production of glucose. The combination can be more effective than either drug alone for some patients, with a complementary action that can enhance glycemic control while minimizing side effects.

Empagliflozin vs. Metformin: Which Is Better?

The choice between empagliflozin and metformin depends on individual patient needs, medical history, and the presence of comorbid conditions. Because of its established effectiveness, low risk profile, and affordability, metformin is usually the first-choice medication for those with type 2 diabetes.Empagliflozin, however, offers additional benefits, such as cardiovascular protection and weight loss, which may be particularly advantageous for certain patients. A healthcare provider can make the best recommendation based on the patient's overall health status and treatment goals.

Can Jardiance Be Used for Prediabetes?

Jardiance (empagliflozin) is primarily approved for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. However, research into its use for prediabetes is ongoing, as its mechanism of lowering blood glucose could potentially delay the onset of type 2 diabetes in people with prediabetes. Using empagliflozin in prediabetes should be decided after a comprehensive assessment by a medical professional.

Latest Advancements and Research on Empagliflozin

Long-term Safety and Efficacy

The importance of ongoing studies to understand the long-term safety and efficacy of empagliflozin cannot be overstated. While current data are encouraging, especially regarding cardiovascular benefits and renal protection, continuous research will help elucidate the full spectrum of effects and potential risks over the long term.

New Formulations and Delivery Methods

Research into new formulations and delivery methods for empagliflozin is part of the effort to enhance patient compliance and optimize therapeutic outcomes. While oral tablets remain the standard, investigations into extended-release formulations or combination pills that merge empagliflozin with other diabetes medications are underway. These developments aim to simplify diabetes management, potentially improving adherence and patient experience.

Ongoing Research on Combination Therapies

Empagliflozin's role in combination therapies continues to be a significant area of research. Studies are examining its use alongside other diabetes medications, such as DPP-4 inhibitors and GLP-1 receptor agonists, to achieve better glycemic control and address multiple facets of diabetes management, including weight management and cardiovascular risk reduction. These studies are crucial for developing more effective and personalized treatment strategies for people with type 2 diabetes.


Empagliflozin (Jardiance) has transformed the treatment landscape for type 2 diabetes. Its unique mechanism of action effectively lowers blood sugar levels and offers a range of additional health benefits, including cardiovascular protection and weight management. While empagliflozin may not be suitable for everyone, it represents a significant advancement in diabetes management, offering a promising option for many people living with this chronic condition.

However, it is important to remember that empagliflozin is a prescription medication, and consulting with a healthcare professional is essential before starting this medication.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Empagliflozin Used in Type 1 Diabetes?

In type 1 diabetes, Insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas are destroyed by the immune system, which results in a complete lack of insulin.

Treatment focuses on insulin replacement therapy. While empagliflozin's mechanism could theoretically offer benefits by removing excess glucose through the urine, there is a risk of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), especially when insulin levels are too low. Hence, empagliflozin is not commonly used as a routine treatment for type 1 diabetes but is mainly approved to treat type 2 diabetes. Any consideration of its use in type 1 diabetes should be made with caution and under strict medical supervision.

Can I Drink Alcohol While Taking Empagliflozin?

Moderation is key when consuming alcohol while taking empagliflozin. The diuretic effect of empagliflozin may be enhanced by alcohol intake which could lead to dehydration. In addition to raising the risk of dehydration, alcohol consumption might cause unanticipated changes in blood glucose levels.

Can I Take Empagliflozin with Other Medications?

Yes, empagliflozin can be taken with other medications, including other diabetes treatments, to better manage blood glucose levels. However, it is important to disclose all medications you are taking to your healthcare provider, as empagliflozin can interact with other drugs.

Interactions could alter the effectiveness of your medications or increase the risk of side effects. When taking empagliflozin with other prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, and vitamins, a healthcare professional can provide advice on how to combine them safely.

Is Empagliflozin Safe for People with Kidney Problems?

Depending on the degree of renal impairment, empagliflozin's safety and effectiveness in treating kidney disease vary. Empagliflozin is not recommended for patients with severe renal impairment, end-stage renal disease, or those receiving dialysis because its effectiveness relies on the kidneys' ability to filter glucose from the blood.

However, for those with mild to moderate kidney impairment, empagliflozin can still be used, albeit with caution and under close monitoring. Recent studies have suggested the potential benefits of SGLT2 inhibitors, including empagliflozin, in slowing the progression of chronic kidney disease (CKD) in patients with type 2 diabetes, and reducing the risk of cardiovascular events.The decision to use empagliflozin in CKD should be made on a case-by-case basis, considering the patient’s overall kidney function and potential risks.

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