Teach Me

Empagliflozin (Jardiance): What You Need to Know

If you have type 2 diabetes (or even if you don’t), you may have seen ads for Jardiance on TV. This drug, also known as empagliflozin, may help control your blood sugar (glucose) levels and reduce the risk of complications from type 2 diabetes.

That’s important because, over time, high blood sugar levels can lead to serious health issues like heart disease, kidney damage and nerve problems. 

Jardiance helps your kidneys remove glucose from your bloodstream and get rid of it through your urine. Along with managing blood sugar, Jardiance may also reduce the risk of cardiovascular events in people with heart disease.

This drug may be helpful if you have trouble controlling your blood sugar through diet, exercise or other medicines. Paul Thompson, a pharmacist with Banner Pharmacy Services, explained more about this medication.

What is empagliflozin (Jardiance)?

Empagliflozin is a medication that belongs to a class of drugs known as SGLT2 inhibitors. 

Empagliflozin is available in tablet form, and you typically take it once daily.

“Jardiance works by helping your kidneys remove glucose from your bloodstream through urine,” Dr. Thompson said. 

Normally, your kidneys filter glucose from your blood and then reabsorb it into your bloodstream. When you have type 2 diabetes, your kidneys can reabsorb too much glucose, so your blood sugar levels become high. 

Empagliflozin blocks the action of a protein in the kidneys that’s called sodium-glucose co-transporter 2 (SGLT2). That reduces the amount of glucose reabsorbed into the bloodstream and increases the amount passed in urine. 

Other benefits of empagliflozin

Along with better blood glucose control, empagliflozin may also offer these benefits:

  • If you have both type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, taking Jardiance can lower the risk of heart attack, stroke and cardiovascular death. “Jardiance has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular death, which is a notable benefit beyond blood sugar control,” Dr. Thompson said.
  • Empagliflozin can also help with weight loss since it causes your body to excrete excess glucose and calories in your urine. “This can be a beneficial side effect for some people,” he said.
  • Empagliflozin can help lower blood pressure, which is good for your heart health and can reduce the risk of diabetes-related complications.
  • Empagliflozin may help protect kidney function in people with type 2 diabetes. 

It’s important to discuss these potential benefits with your health care provider to see if Jardiance is the right choice for you.

How to take empagliflozin

It’s important to take empagliflozin correctly so it works effectively with less risk of side effects. 

Empagliflozin comes in tablets that you typically take once a day, with water and with or without food. You should swallow the tablet whole — don’t split, crush or chew it. The usual starting dose is 10 mg, but your doctor may increase it to 25 mg depending on your blood sugar levels and overall health.

Take the dose your health care provider recommends unless they advise you to change it. Be sure to see your provider regularly to monitor your progress. You can take empagliflozin at any time of day, but you should take it at the same time each day to keep your blood sugar control consistent. 

If you have trouble remembering to take your medication, it can help to:

  • Use your phone or a clock to set a reminder.
  • Take your medicine with a regular activity, such as brushing your teeth or having breakfast.
  • Use a pill organizer to track whether you’ve taken your medication.
  • Place your medication in a spot where you’ll see it every day, such as next to your toothbrush or on the kitchen counter.
  • Use a reminder app.

Possible side effects

Empagliflozin (Jardiance) is generally well-tolerated, but like all medications it can cause side effects in some people. 

Common side effects include:
  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs)
  • Increased urination
  • Genital yeast infections
Serious side effects are rare. They may include:
  • Ketoacidosis, where the body makes high levels of blood acids called ketones. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, difficulty breathing and confusion.
  • Dehydration, since the medication can increase urination. Symptoms of dehydration include dizziness, weakness, dry mouth and dark urine.
  • Low blood pressure: Symptoms include dizziness, lightheadedness and fainting.

Tell your health care provider if you notice any side effects while taking empagliflozin. They can evaluate how severe the side effects are and decide if you need to change your treatment. 

Follow your provider’s advice, drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated and monitor your symptoms. Don’t stop taking empagliflozin without consulting your doctor.

Who should not take empagliflozin

If you have certain conditions or take some other medications, empagliflozin may not be right for you. “Regular monitoring of kidney function is essential while on Jardiance, especially in patients with pre-existing kidney conditions,” Dr. Thompson said.

  • Empagliflozin is not recommended for people with severe kidney impairment or end-stage renal disease (ESRD), since it can stress the kidneys.  
  • Combining empagliflozin with diuretics (water pills) can increase the risk of dehydration and low blood pressure. Your provider may adjust your dosage or monitor you closely if you take both medications.
  • Taking empagliflozin with insulin and insulin secretagogues (medicines that stimulate the pancreas to make more insulin) such as sulfonylureas may increase your risk of low blood sugar. Your doctor may need to adjust your insulin dosage or watch you closely for signs of low blood sugar.

Why regular checkups are important

If you take empagliflozin, your provider will likely:

  • Monitor your kidney function regularly, especially if you have pre-existing kidney disease or are at risk for kidney problems.
  • Test your blood to check your blood sugar levels and adjust your treatment plan if needed.
  • Monitor your blood pressure, especially when you’re starting to take the medication or changing the dosage.

Lifestyle tips for managing type 2 diabetes

Along with taking medications like Jardiance, making healthy lifestyle choices is important for managing type 2 diabetes. Here are some tips to help you keep your diabetes under control and improve your overall health:

Healthy eating
  • Aim to eat a variety of nutrient-rich foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats.
  • Be mindful of portion sizes to avoid overeating and help maintain stable blood sugar levels.
  • Limit sugary snacks, desserts and drinks, since they can spike your blood sugar.
  • Choose complex carbohydrates with fiber, which are digested more slowly and have less impact on blood sugar levels.
Regular physical activity
  • Try to get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, cycling or swimming, each week.
  • Include strength training exercises, such as weightlifting or resistance band exercises, at least twice a week to build muscle and improve insulin sensitivity.
  • Try to reduce your inactive time by taking short walks, standing up regularly or doing household chores throughout the day.
Monitoring blood sugar levels
  • Check your blood sugar levels regularly, as often as your provider recommends. Close monitoring helps you understand how your lifestyle and medications affect your blood sugar.
  • Keep a record of your blood sugar readings, meals, physical activity and medication doses to track patterns and find areas where you can improve.
  • Know your target blood sugar range and work with your provider to adjust your treatment plan so you stay within it.
Staying hydrated
  • Drink eight to ten glasses of water throughout the day — more if you’re physically active or out in hot weather.
  • Avoid sugary beverages like soda, fruit juices and energy drinks.
  • Pay attention to signs of dehydration, such as dark-colored urine, dry mouth, fatigue or dizziness.
  • “Avoid excessive alcohol consumption as it can worsen dehydration risks associated with Jardiance,” Dr. Thompson said.

The bottom line

Managing type 2 diabetes can be challenging. If lifestyle changes and other medications aren’t giving you the blood sugar control you need, ask your provider if a medication like Jardiance might help. If you would like to connect with a diabetes expert, reach out to Banner Health.

Other useful articles

The content in this article is for informational use only. Always discuss any medication with your health care provider or pharmacist before taking it. Also, refer to the medication package insert supplied by the pharmaceutical manufacturer with your prescription.

Diabetes Pharmacy