Concerns about an increased cardiovascular risk with the angiotensin receptor blocker, olmesartan, prompted the current study to examine associations between olmesartan and other angiotensin receptor blockers with overall and cause-specific mortalities. We collected patients who started to use losartan, valsartan, irbesartan, candesartan, telmisartan, and olmesartan between January 1, 2004, and December 31, 2009, from Taiwan's National Health Insurance claims database. Prescribed drug types, dosage, and other clinical information were collected. Overall mortality and cause-specific mortality were ascertained through linkages with Taiwan's National Death Registry. Two follow-up analyses, labeled intention-to-treat and as-treated, were conducted. A Cox proportional hazard regression model was used to calculate the hazard ratio (HR) and 95% confidence interval (CI) using losartan as the reference group. A total of 690 463 subjects were included, with a mean follow-up ranging from a low of 2.8 years for olmesartan to a high of 4.1 years for irbesartan. Subjects who began with valsartan had a modest but significantly increased risk of overall mortality (HR, 1.04; 95% CI, 1.02-1.06) compared with losartan. Irbesartan (HR, 0.96; 95% CI, 0.94-0.99), candesartan (HR, 0.95; 95% CI, 0.92-0.99), telmisartan (HR, 0.93; 95% CI, 0.90-0.96), and olmesartan (HR, 0.93; 95% CI, 0.88-0.97) were associated with a slightly lower overall mortality risk than losartan. The analysis indicates that the differences in mortality risk among individual angiotensin receptor blockers were only marginal and thus less likely to be clinically important. Although uncontrolled confounding might still exist, olmesartan does not seem to increase cardiovascular risk compared with losartan.
Keywords: angiotensin receptor antagonists; cohort studies; comparative effectiveness research; mortality.