Does hypoglycaemia increase the risk of cardiovascular events? A report from the ORIGIN trial

Eur Heart J. 2013 Oct;34(40):3137-44. doi: 10.1093/eurheartj/eht332. Epub 2013 Sep 2.


Aims: Hypoglycaemia caused by glucose-lowering therapy has been linked to cardiovascular (CV) events. The ORIGIN trial provides an opportunity to further assess this relationship.

Methods and results: A total of 12 537 participants with dysglycaemia and high CV-risk were randomized to basal insulin glargine titrated to a fasting glucose of ≤ 5.3 mmol/L (95 mg/dL) or standard glycaemic care. Non-severe hypoglycaemia was defined as symptoms confirmed by glucose ≤ 54 mg/dL and severe hypoglycaemia as a requirement for assistance or glucose ≤ 36 mg/dL. Outcomes were: (i) the composite of CV death, non-fatal myocardial infarction or stroke; (ii) mortality; (iii) CV mortality; and (iv) arrhythmic death. Hazards were estimated before and after adjustment for a hypoglycaemia propensity score. During a median of 6.2 years (IQR: 5.8-6.7), non-severe hypoglycaemic episodes occurred in 41.7 and 14.4% glargine and standard group participants, respectively, while severe episodes occurred in 5.7 and 1.8%, respectively. Non-severe hypoglycaemia was not associated with any outcome following adjustment. Conversely, severe hypoglycaemia was associated with a greater risk for the primary outcome (HR: 1.58; 95% CI: 1.24-2.02, P < 0.001), mortality (HR: 1.74; 95% CI: 1.39-2.19, P < 0.001), CV death (HR: 1.71; 95% CI: 1.27-2.30, P < 0.001) and arrhythmic death (HR: 1.77; 95% CI: 1.17-2.67, P = 0.007). Similar findings were noted for severe nocturnal hypoglycaemia for the primary outcome and mortality. The severe hypoglycaemia hazard for all four outcomes was higher with standard care than with insulin glargine.

Conclusion: Severe hypoglycaemia is associated with an increased risk for CV outcomes in people at high CV risk and dysglycaemia. Although allocation to insulin glargine vs. standard care was associated with an increased risk of severe and non-severe hypoglycaemia, the relative risk of CV outcomes with hypoglycaemia was lower with insulin glargine-based glucose-lowering therapy than with the standard glycaemic control. Trial Registration (ORIGIN number NCT00069784).

Keywords: Glargine; Glucose-lowering treatment; Hypoglycaemia; Insulin; Prognosis.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / chemically induced
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / mortality
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / chemically induced*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / drug therapy
  • Diabetic Angiopathies / chemically induced*
  • Diabetic Angiopathies / mortality
  • Female
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemia / chemically induced*
  • Hypoglycemia / mortality
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Insulin Glargine
  • Insulin, Long-Acting / administration & dosage
  • Insulin, Long-Acting / adverse effects*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardial Infarction / chemically induced
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Factors
  • Stroke / chemically induced


  • Glycated Hemoglobin A
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Insulin, Long-Acting
  • Insulin Glargine

Associated data