Background: A sulfonylurea--usually glyburide--plus metformin constitute the most widely used oral antihyperglycemic combination in clinical practice. Both medications present undesirable cardiovascular effects. The issue whether the adverse effects of each of these pharmacologic agents may be additive and detrimental to the prognosis for coronary patients has not yet been specifically addressed.
Hypothesis: This study was designed to examine the survival in type 2 diabetics with proven coronary artery disease (CAD) receiving a combined glyburide/metformin antihyperglycemic treatment over a long-term follow-up period.
Methods: The study sample comprised 2,275 diabetic patients, aged 45-74 years, with proven CAD, who were screened but not included in the bezafibrate infarction prevention study. In addition, 9,047 nondiabetic patients with CAD represented a reference group. Diabetics were divided into four groups on the basis of their therapeutic regimen: diet alone (n = 990), glyburide (n = 953), metformin (n = 79), and a combination of the latter two (n = 253).
Results: The diabetic groups presented similar clinical characteristics upon recruitment. Crude mortality rate after a 7.7-year follow-up was lower in nondiabetics (14 vs. 31.6%, p<0.001). Among diabetics, 720 patients died: 260 on diet (mortality 26.3%), 324 on glyburide (34%), 25 on metformin alone (31.6%), and 111 patients (43.9%) on combined treatment (p<0.000001). Time-related mortality was almost equal for patients on metformin and on combined therapy over an intermediate follow-up period of 4 years (survival rates 0.80 and 0.79, respectively). The group on combined treatment presented the worst prognosis over the long-term follow-up, with a time-related survival rate of 0.59 after 7 years, versus 0.68 and 0.70 for glyburide and metformin, respectively. After adjustment to variables for prognosis, the use of the combined treatment was associated with an increased hazard ratio (HR) for all-cause mortality of 1.53 (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.20-1.96), whereas glyburide and metformin alone yielded HR 1.22 (95% CI 1.02-1.45) and HR 1.26 (95% CI 0.81-1.96), respectively.
Conclusions: We conclude that after a 7.7-year follow-up, monotherapy with either glyburide or metformin in diabetic patients with CAD yielded a similar outcome and was associated with a modest increase in mortality. However, time-related mortality was markedly increased when a combined glyburide/metformin treatment was used.