Background: The risks and benefits of intensive therapy in non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) need to be defined. In preparation for a long-term trial, a feasibility study of 153 men in 5 medical centers compared standard vs intensive insulin therapy.
Objective: To assess the rate of development of new cardiovascular events and their correlates.
Methods: Patients with a mean +/- SD age of 60 +/- 6 years and diagnosis of NIDDM for 7.8 +/- 4.0 years were randomly assigned to a standard (1 insulin injection every morning) or to an intensive treatment arm (stepped plan from 1 evening injection of insulin, alone or with glipizide, to multiple daily injections) designed to attain near-normal glycemia levels. A 2.07% separation of glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c) was sustained for a mean follow-up of 27 months (P < .001). Predefined cardiovascular events were assessed by a committee unaware of treatment assignment.
Results: Mild and moderate hypoglycemic events were more frequent in the intensive than in the standard treatment arm (16.5 vs 1.5 per patient per year, respectively). Mean insulin dose was 23% lower in the standard treatment arm (P < .001). There were 61 new cardiovascular events in 24 patients (32%) in the intensive treatment arm and in 16 patients (20%) in the standard treatment arm (P = .10). There was no difference in total and cardiovascular mortality (n = 5 and n = 3 in the intensive and standard treatment arms, respectively) or in new events in patients with cardiovascular history (n = 10 in each arm). In Cox regression analysis, the only significant correlate for new cardiovascular events was previous cardiovascular disease (P = .04). Entering in the analysis any baseline cardiovascular abnormality, the regression model indicated a lower HbA1c level prior to the event as the only correlate for new cardiovascular events (P = .05).
Conclusion: A long-term prospective trial is needed to assess the risk-benefit ratio of intensive insulin therapy for NIDDM in patients who require it.