Diabetes Mellitus: Is It Protective against Aneurysm? A Narrative Review

Cardiology. 2018;141(2):107-122. doi: 10.1159/000490373. Epub 2018 Nov 19.


Objectives: In the course of extensive clinical aortic surgery, we noticed that the aorta was quite thick and fibrotic in diabetic patients. We thought the diabetic aortic aorta might be inimitable to aortic dissection. On this basis, we set out to review information in the literature regarding aortic growth and dissection in diabetic patients.

Methods: We used a 2-step search approach to the available literature on diabetes and aneurysm. Firstly, databases including PubMed, Cochrane, Embase and TRIP were searched. Secondly, relevant studies were identified through secondary sources including references of initially selected articles. We address the relationship between diabetes and the incidence, prevalence, growth, mortality and rupture of an aneurysm.

Results: Diabetes is thought to exert a protective role in both thoracic aortic aneurysm (TAA) and abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA). Diabetics were shown to have a slower aneurysm growth rate, lower rupture rate, delayed (> 65 years) age of rupture, decreased rate of mortality from an aneurysm and a decreased length of hospital stay. There was also noted a decreased rate of incidence and prevalence of TAA and AAA in diabetics, smaller aneurysm diameter, reduction in matrix metalloproteinases and an increased aortic wall stress in diabetics. Antidiabetic agents like metformin, thiazolidinediones and dipeptidyl peptidase-4 inhibitors may protect against an aneurysm.

Conclusion: Our literature review provides strong (but often circumstantial) evidence that diabetic patients exhibit slower growth of aortic aneurysms and a lower rate of aortic dissection. Furthermore, clinical and experimental studies indicate that common antidiabetic medications on their own inhibit growth of aortic aneurysms. These findings indicate a paradoxically beneficial effect of the otherwise highly detrimental diabetic state.

Keywords: Aortic aneurysm; Aortic aneurysm, abdominal; Aortic aneurysm, thoracic; Aortic rupture; Diabetes mellitus; Meta-analysis.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aortic Aneurysm, Abdominal / epidemiology*
  • Aortic Aneurysm, Abdominal / mortality
  • Aortic Aneurysm, Thoracic / epidemiology*
  • Aortic Aneurysm, Thoracic / mortality
  • Aortic Rupture / epidemiology*
  • Aortic Rupture / mortality
  • Diabetes Mellitus / drug therapy
  • Diabetes Mellitus / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Incidence
  • Length of Stay
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors


  • Hypoglycemic Agents