Objective: In the ACCORD trial, intensive treatment of patients with type 2 diabetes and high cardiovascular (CV) risk was associated with higher all-cause and CV mortality. Post hoc analyses have failed to implicate rapid reduction of glucose, hypoglycemia, or specific drugs as the causes of this finding. We hypothesized that exposure to injected insulin was quantitatively associated with increased CV mortality.
Research design and methods: We examined insulin exposure data from 10,163 participants with a mean follow-up of 5 years. Using Cox proportional hazards models, we explored associations between CV mortality and total, basal, and prandial insulin dose over time, adjusting for both baseline and on-treatment covariates including randomized intervention assignment.
Results: More participants allocated to intensive treatment (79%) than standard treatment (62%) were ever prescribed insulin in ACCORD, with a higher mean updated total daily dose (0.41 vs. 0.30 units/kg) (P < 0.001). Before adjustment for covariates, higher insulin dose was associated with increased risk of CV death (hazard ratios [HRs] per 1 unit/kg/day 1.83 [1.45, 2.31], 2.29 [1.62, 3.23], and 3.36 [2.00, 5.66] for total, basal, and prandial insulin, respectively). However, after adjustment for baseline covariates, no significant association of insulin dose with CV death remained. Moreover, further adjustment for severe hypoglycemia, weight change, attained A1C, and randomized treatment assignment did not materially alter this observation.
Conclusions: These analyses provide no support for the hypothesis that insulin dose contributed to CV mortality in ACCORD.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00000620.
© 2015 by the American Diabetes Association. Readers may use this article as long as the work is properly cited, the use is educational and not for profit, and the work is not altered.