Skip to main page content
Access keys NCBI Homepage MyNCBI Homepage Main Content Main Navigation
. 2011 Jul 26;343:d4169.
doi: 10.1136/bmj.d4169.

Effect of Intensive Glucose Lowering Treatment on All Cause Mortality, Cardiovascular Death, and Microvascular Events in Type 2 Diabetes: Meta-Analysis of Randomised Controlled Trials

Free PMC article

Effect of Intensive Glucose Lowering Treatment on All Cause Mortality, Cardiovascular Death, and Microvascular Events in Type 2 Diabetes: Meta-Analysis of Randomised Controlled Trials

Rémy Boussageon et al. BMJ. .
Free PMC article


Objective: To determine all cause mortality and deaths from cardiovascular events related to intensive glucose lowering treatment in people with type 2 diabetes.

Design: Meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials.

Data sources: Medline, Embase, and the Cochrane database of systematic reviews.

Study selection: Randomised controlled trials that assessed the effect of intensive glucose lowering treatment on cardiovascular events and microvascular complications in adults (≥ 18 years) with type 2 diabetes.

Data extraction: Primary end points were all cause mortality and death from cardiovascular causes. Secondary end points were severe hypoglycaemia and macrovascular and microvascular events. Synthesis of results Results are reported as risk ratios with 99% confidence intervals. Statistical heterogeneity between trials was assessed with χ(2), τ(2), and I(2) statistics. A fixed effect model was used to assess the effect on the outcomes of intensive glucose lowering versus standard treatment. The quality of clinical trials was assessed by the Jadad score.

Results: 13 studies were included. Of 34,533 patients, 18,315 received intensive glucose lowering treatment and 16,218 standard treatment. Intensive treatment did not significantly affect all cause mortality (risk ratio 1.04, 99% confidence interval 0.91 to 1.19) or cardiovascular death (1.11, 0.86 to 1.43). Intensive therapy was, however, associated with reductions in the risk of non-fatal myocardial infarction (0.85, 0.74 to 0.96, P<0.001), and microalbuminuria (0.90, 0.85 to 0.96, P<0.001) but a more than twofold increase in the risk of severe hypoglycaemia (2.33, 21.62 to 3.36, P<0.001). Over a treatment period of five years, 117 to 150 patients would need to be treated to avoid one myocardial infarction and 32 to 142 patients to avoid one episode of microalbuminuria, whereas one severe episode of hypoglycaemia would occur for every 15 to 52 patients. In analysis restricted to high quality studies (Jadad score >3), intensive treatment was not associated with any significant risk of reductions but resulted in a 47% increase in risk of congestive heart failure (P<0.001).

Conclusions: The overall results of this meta-analysis show limited benefits of intensive glucose lowering treatment on all cause mortality and deaths from cardiovascular causes. We cannot exclude a 9% reduction or a 19% increase in all cause mortality and a 14% reduction or a 43% increase in cardiovascular death. The benefit:risk ratio of intensive glucose lowering treatment in the prevention of macrovascular and microvascular events remains uncertain. The harm associated with severe hypoglycaemia might counterbalance the potential benefit of intensive glucose lowering treatment. More double blind randomised controlled trials are needed to establish the best therapeutic approach in people with type 2 diabetes.

Conflict of interest statement

Competing interests: All authors have completed the ICMJE uniform disclosure form at (available on request from the corresponding author) and declare: no support from any organisation for the submitted work; no financial relationships with any organisations that might have an interest in the submitted work in the previous three years; no other relationships or activities that could appear to have influenced the submitted work.


Fig 1 Flow of studies through review
Fig 2 Forest plot for all cause mortality and death from cardiovascular causes
Fig 3 Forest plot for macrovascular events: myocardial infarction (fatal and non-fatal) and stroke (fatal and non-fatal). Data on myocardial infarctions not available for PROactive
Fig 4 Forest plot for macrovascular event of congestive heart failure
Fig 5 Forest plot for microvascular events: retinopathy and photocoagulation
Fig 6 Forest plot for microvascular events: visual deterioration or blindness, neuropathy, microalbuminuria, renal failure or doubling of serum creatinine level, and peripheral vascular events (leg revascularisation, peripheral arterial disease, or intermittent claudication)
Fig 7 Forest plot for microvascular event of amputation (fatal and non-fatal)
Fig 8 Forest plot for severe hypoglycaemia

Comment in

Similar articles

See all similar articles

Cited by 175 articles

See all "Cited by" articles


    1. Wild S, Roglic G, Green A, Sicree R, King H. Global prevalence of diabetes: estimates for the year 2000 and projections for 2030. Diabetes Care 2004;27:1047-53. - PubMed
    1. Coutinho M, Wang Y, Gerstein HC, Yusuf S. The relationship between glucose and incident cardiovascular events. Diabetes Care 1999;22:233-40. - PubMed
    1. Emerging Risk Factors Collaboration. Diabetes mellitus, fasting blood glucose concentration, and risk of vascular disease: a collaborative meta-analysis of 102 prospective studies. Lancet 2010;375:2215-22. - PMC - PubMed
    1. Stratton IM, Adler A, Neil AW, Matthews DR. Association of glycaemia with macrovascular and microvascular complications of type 2 diabetes (UKPDS 35): prospective observational study. BMJ 2000;321:405-12. - PMC - PubMed
    1. Nathan DM, Buse JB, Davidson MB, Ferrannini E, Holman RR, Sherwin R, et al. Medical management of hyperglycemia in type 2 diabetes: a consensus algorithm for the initiation and adjustment of therapy. Diabetes Care 2009;32:193-203. - PMC - PubMed

MeSH terms