Oral diabetes medication monotherapy and short-term mortality in individuals with type 2 diabetes and coronary artery disease

BMJ Open Diabetes Res Care. 2018 Jun 15;6(1):e000516. doi: 10.1136/bmjdrc-2018-000516. eCollection 2018.


Objective: To determine whether sulfonylurea use, compared with non-sulfonylurea oral diabetes medication use, was associated with 2-year mortality in individuals with well-controlled diabetes and coronary artery disease (CAD).

Research design and methods: We studied 5352 US veterans with type 2 diabetes, obstructive CAD on coronary angiography, hemoglobin A1c ≤7.5% at the time of catheterization, and taking zero or one oral diabetes medication (categorized as no medications, non-sulfonylurea medication, or sulfonylurea). We estimated the association between medication category and 2-year mortality using inverse probability of treatment-weighted (IPW) standardized mortality differences and IPW multivariable Cox proportional hazards regression.

Results: 49%, 35%, and 16% of the participants were on no diabetes medications, non-sulfonylurea medications, and sulfonylureas, respectively. In individuals on no medications, non-sulfonylurea medications, and sulfonylureas, the unadjusted mortality rates were 6.6%, 5.2%, and 11.9%, respectively, and the IPW-standardized mortality rates were 5.9%, 6.5%, and 9.7%, respectively. The standardized absolute 2-year mortality difference between non-sulfonylurea and sulfonylurea groups was 3.2% (95% CI 0.7 to 5.7) (p=0.01). In Cox proportional hazards models, the point estimate suggested that sulfonylurea use might be associated with greater hazard of mortality than non-sulfonylurea medication use, but this finding was not statistically significant (HR 1.38 (95% CI 1.00 to 1.93), p=0.05). We did not observe significant mortality differences between individuals on no diabetes medications and non-sulfonylurea users.

Conclusions: Sulfonylurea use was common (nearly one-third of those taking medications) and was associated with increased 2-year mortality in individuals with obstructive CAD. The significance of the association between sulfonylurea use and mortality was attenuated in fully adjusted survival models. Caution with sulfonylurea use may be warranted for patients with well-controlled diabetes and CAD, and metformin or newer diabetes medications with cardiovascular safety data could be considered as alternatives when individualizing therapy.

Keywords: coronary artery disease; diabetes mellitus; metformin; oral diabetes treatment; sulfonylurea.