Introduction: Long-term glycemic control trials in type 2 diabetes show as the main clinical benefit a difference in retinal photocoagulation (3/1000 in the UK Prospective Diabetes Study [UKPDS]), but no effect on visual acuity or renal failure. No intensive glycemic control trial has yet affected cardiovascular (CV) events, the main cause of morbidity and mortality. By contrast, modest blood pressure reduction has protective effects on visual acuity, renal function, CV events, and mortality. Optimal glycemic control goals are not established in elderly, obese persons with advanced complications, the most common patients in the Veterans Affairs (VA) system. The earlier feasibility trial in such patients (VA-CSDM) suggested potentially worse CV outcomes with lower attained hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) levels.
Objectives: The primary objective of the Veterans Affairs Diabetes Trial (VADT) is the assessment of the effect of intensive glycemic treatment on CV events. Other objectives are effects on microangiopathy, quality of life, and cost effectiveness.
Research design and methods: The VADT, started in December 2000, is enrolling 1700 men and women previously uncontrolled on insulin or maximum doses of oral agents at 20 VA medical centers. Accrual is 2 years and follow-up is 5-7 years, with visits every 1.5 months. The study has a power of 86% to detect a 21% relative reduction in major CV events (CV death, myocardial infarction [MI], cerebrovascular accident [CVA], congestive heart failure [CHF], revascularization and amputation for ischemia). Subjects are randomized to an intensive arm aiming at normal HbA1c levels or to a standard arm with usual, improved glycemic control. An HbA1c separation of >1.5% is to be maintained (expected 2%). Both arms receive step therapy: glimepiride or metformin plus rosiglitazone and addition of insulin or other oral agents to achieve goals. Strict control of blood pressure and dyslipidemia, daily aspirin, diet, and education are identical in both arms. Plasma fibrinogen, plasminogen-activating inhibitor I (PAI-I), lipids, renal function parameters, and ECG are measured throughout. Stereo retinal photographs are obtained at entry and 5 years, eye examinations yearly, and intervention as needed to prevent visual deterioration. Recruitment is proceeding on schedule: the current mean HbA1c at entry is 9.4+/-1.6% and mean duration of diagnosed diabetes 11+/-8 years.