Effect of Empagliflozin on Left Ventricular Mass in Patients With Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus and Coronary Artery Disease: The EMPA-HEART CardioLink-6 Randomized Clinical Trial

Circulation. 2019 Nov 19;140(21):1693-1702. doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.119.042375. Epub 2019 Aug 22.


Background: SGLT2 (sodium-glucose cotransporter 2) inhibitors lower cardiovascular events in type 2 diabetes mellitus but whether they promote direct cardiac effects remains unknown. We sought to determine if empagliflozin causes a decrease in left ventricular (LV) mass in people with type 2 diabetes mellitus and coronary artery disease.

Methods: Between November 2016 and April 2018, we recruited 97 individuals ≥40 and ≤80 years old with glycated hemoglobin 6.5% to 10.0%, known coronary artery disease, and estimated glomerular filtration rate ≥60mL/min/1.73m2. The participants were randomized to empagliflozin (10 mg/day, n=49) or placebo (n=48) for 6 months, in addition to standard of care. The primary outcome was the 6-month change in LV mass indexed to body surface area from baseline as measured by cardiac magnetic resonance imaging. Other measures included 6-month changes in LV end-diastolic and -systolic volumes indexed to body surface area, ejection fraction, 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure, hematocrit, and NT-proBNP (N-terminal pro b-type natriuretic peptide).

Results: Among the 97 participants (90 men [93%], mean [standard deviation] age 62.8 [9.0] years, type 2 diabetes mellitus duration 11.0 [8.2] years, estimated glomerular filtration rate 88.4 [16.9] mL/min/1.73m2, LV mass indexed to body surface area 60.7 [11.9] g/m2), 90 had evaluable imaging at follow-up. Mean LV mass indexed to body surface area regression over 6 months was 2.6 g/m2 and 0.01 g/m2 for those assigned empagliflozin and placebo, respectively (adjusted difference -3.35 g/m2; 95% CI, -5.9 to -0.81g/m2, P=0.01). In the empagliflozin-allocated group, there was significant lowering of overall ambulatory systolic blood pressure (adjusted difference -6.8mmHg, 95% CI -11.2 to -2.3mmHg, P=0.003), diastolic blood pressure (adjusted difference -3.2mmHg; 95% CI, -5.8 to -0.6mmHg, P=0.02) and elevation of hematocrit (P=0.0003).

Conclusions: Among people with type 2 diabetes mellitus and coronary artery disease, SGLT2 inhibition with empagliflozin was associated with significant reduction in LV mass indexed to body surface area after 6 months, which may account in part for the beneficial cardiovascular outcomes observed in the EMPA-REG OUTCOME (BI 10773 [Empagliflozin] Cardiovascular Outcome Event Trial in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus Patients) trial.

Clinical trial registration: URL: https://www.clinicaltrials.gov. Unique identifier: NCT02998970.

Keywords: SGLT2 inhibitors; coronary artery disease; diabetes mellitus; ventricular myocardium.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Benzhydryl Compounds / adverse effects
  • Benzhydryl Compounds / therapeutic use*
  • Coronary Artery Disease / diagnosis
  • Coronary Artery Disease / drug therapy*
  • Coronary Artery Disease / physiopathology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / diagnosis
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / drug therapy*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / physiopathology
  • Diabetic Cardiomyopathies / diagnosis
  • Diabetic Cardiomyopathies / drug therapy*
  • Diabetic Cardiomyopathies / physiopathology
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Glucosides / adverse effects
  • Glucosides / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Cine
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Ontario
  • Sodium-Glucose Transporter 2 Inhibitors / adverse effects
  • Sodium-Glucose Transporter 2 Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Ventricular Function, Left / drug effects*
  • Ventricular Remodeling / drug effects*


  • Benzhydryl Compounds
  • Glucosides
  • Sodium-Glucose Transporter 2 Inhibitors
  • empagliflozin

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT02998970