Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. Invokana (canagliflozin) is a diabetes medicine that helps control blood sugar levels. Canagliflozin works by helping the kidneys clean glucose from your bloodstream. The most serious potential side effects, problems and risks caused due to the use of Invokana are kidney damage, ketoacidosis and myocardial infarction (heart attack).

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Kidney failure occurs when your kidneys stop functioning without the use of dialysis or a kidney transplant. Kidneys help filter waste products from the blood. When your kidneys stop properly functioning, electrolytes, fluids and waste products, build up in the body and can cause abnormal heart rhythms, confusion, death, shortness of breath and weakness.

Ketoacidosis develops when the body is unable to produce enough insulin. Insulin plays a major role in helping sugar (glucose) enter cells, and provides needed energy to the muscles and other tissues. Without enough insulin, the body breaks down fat as an alternative source of energy, which process produces a buildup of toxic acids in the bloodstream called ketones. Excess ketones result in ketoacidosis if untreated. Ketoacidosis can result in a patient suffering a diabetic coma, extended hospitalization and even death.

Myocardial infarction is the irreversible death of cells within the heart caused by a restriction of blood. A portion of the heart is being starved of oxygen and nutrients, a condition called “cardiac ischemia.” If this condition lasts too long, the starved heart tissue dies.

If you are currently taking Invokana, you should pay attention for any signs of kidney failure, heart problems and acidosis and seek immediate medical attention if you experience symptoms such as the following:

Courtesy of the CDC

Many diabetics must use test strips to keep an eye on their blood sugar.

• Abdominal pain
• Anorexia
• Changes in urination
• Chest pain
• Confusion
• Difficulty breathing
• Dizziness
• Faintness
• Hyperventilation
• Increased heart rate
• Increased pulmonary rate
• Lethargy
• Nausea
• Unusual fatigue
• Sleepiness
• Vomiting
• Weakness

Do not stop or change your diabetes medicines without first talking to your doctor. However, you should be especially careful to take appropriate measures to monitor for signs of kidney issues, heart problems and acidosis, and immediately seek appropriate medical care if you have any concerns.