Comparative Effectiveness of Sulfonylurea and Metformin Monotherapy on Cardiovascular Events in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: A Cohort Study

Ann Intern Med. 2012 Nov 6;157(9):601-10. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-157-9-201211060-00003.

Abstract

Background: The effects of sulfonylureas and metformin on outcomes of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in type 2 diabetes are not well-characterized.

Objective: To compare the effects of sulfonylureas and metformin on CVD outcomes (acute myocardial infarction and stroke) or death.

Design: Retrospective cohort study.

Setting: National Veterans Health Administration databases linked to Medicare files.

Patients: Veterans who initiated metformin or sulfonylurea therapy for diabetes. Patients with chronic kidney disease or serious medical illness were excluded.

Measurements: Composite outcome of hospitalization for acute myocardial infarction or stroke, or death, adjusted for baseline demographic characteristics; medications; cholesterol, hemoglobin A1c, and serum creatinine levels; blood pressure; body mass index; health care utilization; and comorbid conditions.

Results: Among 253 690 patients initiating treatment (98 665 with sulfonylurea therapy and 155 025 with metformin therapy), crude rates of the composite outcome were 18.2 per 1000 person-years in sulfonylurea users and 10.4 per 1000 person-years in metformin users (adjusted incidence rate difference, 2.2 [95% CI, 1.4 to 3.0] more CVD events with sulfonylureas per 1000 person-years; adjusted hazard ratio [aHR], 1.21 [CI, 1.13 to 1.30]). Results were consistent for both glyburide (aHR, 1.26 [CI, 1.16 to 1.37]) and glipizide (aHR, 1.15 [CI, 1.06 to 1.26]) in subgroups by CVD history, age, body mass index, and albuminuria; in a propensity score-matched cohort analysis; and in sensitivity analyses.

Limitation: Most of the veterans in the study population were white men; data on women and minority groups were limited but reflective of the Veterans Health Administration population.

Conclusion: Use of sulfonylureas compared with metformin for initial treatment of diabetes was associated with an increased hazard of CVD events or death.

Primary funding source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cause of Death
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / complications*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / drug therapy*
  • Female
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / adverse effects
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Metformin / adverse effects
  • Metformin / therapeutic use*
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardial Infarction / epidemiology*
  • Myocardial Infarction / mortality
  • Propensity Score
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Stroke / epidemiology*
  • Stroke / mortality
  • Sulfonylurea Compounds / adverse effects
  • Sulfonylurea Compounds / therapeutic use*
  • United States / epidemiology

Substances

  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Sulfonylurea Compounds
  • Metformin