People with diabetes need to be especially vigilant about protecting their hearts, since the disease increases the risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke.

Now researchers may have found a new way to slow down atherosclerosis—hardening of the arteries—with two commonly prescribed medicines that you may already be taking.

One is the drug pioglitazone, sold under the brand name Actos. It is prescribed for blood sugar control in adults with type 2 diabetes. The other is simvastatin, available as the name-brand medicine Zocor. It’s used to reduce high cholesterol and triglyceride (fat) levels in the blood to help prevent heart attacks and strokes.

In those with coronary artery disease and metabolic syndrome, researchers found that taking either of the medicines may help reduce fatty tissue around the heart and signs of inflammation in the blood. But taking both of the medicines at the same time produced even better results.

Together, these drugs show great promise for helping to delay the progression of atherosclerosis.

Additional research is still needed to confirm the findings, but talk with your doctor if you'd like to know more about how these two drugs may benefit your health.

More about diabetes medicines:
Metformin: Side Effects and Precautions
Glipizide: Side Effects and Precautions
An Insulin Pill throughout the Day May Keep the Doctor Away