Effects of sodium glucose cotransporter type 2 inhibitors on heart failure

Diabetes Obes Metab. 2019 Apr;21 Suppl 2:19-23. doi: 10.1111/dom.13678.


Heart failure (HF) is emerging as one of the most common cardiovascular (CV) events in patients with type 2 diabetes (T2D), and the one associated with the worst prognosis. T2D and insulin resistance are strong predictors of incident HF, especially HF with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF). Recent data suggest that even when all traditional risk factors for ASCVD are well controlled, patients with T2D continue to have a substantially greater risk of developing HF-indicating that traditional risk factor control is insufficient from a HF prevention standpoint, and highlighting the need for novel, more effective strategies for both prevention and treatment of heart failure in patients with T2D. Until recently, medications developed for glucose-lowering had, at best, neutral effect on heart failure outcomes in patients with T2D, while several classes of T2D medications had little data in regards to HF risk, and others actually increased the risk of HF hospitalization. Sodium glucose cotransporter type 2 inhibitors (SGLT-2i) have a novel and unique mechanism of action. By inhibiting sodium and glucose reabsorption in the proximal tubule, SGLT-2i result in a number of downstream effects, including glucosuria, weight loss, osmotic diuresis and natriuresis, which should theoretically be beneficial in HF. Three CVOTs of various SGLT-2i (EMPA-REG OUTCOME, CANVAS and DECLARE-TIMI 58) enrolled markedly different patient populations in terms of ASCVD risk, but have demonstrated robust and consistent benefits in reduction of hospitalization for HF. In a meta-analysis of the three outcomes trials, SGLT-2i significantly reduced the risk of cardiovascular death or hospitalization for HF by 23% and hospitalization for HF by 31%. Although the declines in HF hospitalization with SGLT-2is are impressive, only a small proportion of patients with established HF were enrolled in these trials, and these benefits, therefore, represent primarily a HF prevention signal. Whether this prevention of HF benefit will translate to better outcomes for those patients with established HF (with or without diabetes), and whether it will extend across the spectrum of HF phenotypes (HFrEF and HFpEF) is yet to be determined, and is being actively investigated in several large ongoing trials.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT03057977 NCT03057951 NCT03036124 NCT03619213 NCT02653482 NCT03030235 NCT03030222 NCT03448419 NCT03448406.

Keywords: SGLT2 inhibitor; heart failure.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / complications
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / drug therapy*
  • Female
  • Heart Failure / etiology
  • Heart Failure / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Sodium-Glucose Transporter 2 Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Sodium-Glucose Transporter 2 Inhibitors

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT03057977
  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT03057951
  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT03036124
  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT03619213
  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT02653482
  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT03030235
  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT03030222
  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT03448419
  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT03448406