CHICAGO – When the first results from a large trial that showed profound and unexpected benefits for preventing heart failure hospitalizations associated with use of the antihyperglycemic sodium-glucose cotransporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitor empagliflozin came out – a little over 3 years ago – the general reaction from clinicians was some variant of “Could this be real?”
Since then, as results from some five other large, international trials have come out showing both similar benefits from two other drugs in the same SGLT2 inhibitor class, canagliflozin and dapagliflozin, as well as results showing clear cardiovascular disease benefits from three drugs in a second class of antihyperglycemics, the glucagonlike peptide–1 receptor agonists (GLP-1 RAs), the general consensus among cardiologists became: “The cardiovascular and renal benefits are real. How can we now best use these drugs to help patients?”
This change increasingly forces cardiologists, as well as the primary care physicians who often manage patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus, to become more comfortable prescribing these two classes of antihyperglycemic drugs. During a talk at the American Heart Association scientific sessions,, arguably the top thought leader in cardiology, coined a new name for the medical subspecialty that he foresees navigating this overlap between diabetes care and cardiovascular disease prevention: diabetocardiology (although a more euphonic alternative might be cardiodiabetology, while the more comprehensive name could be cardionephrodiabetology).
“I was certainly surprised” by the first report in 2015 from thetrial ( ) said Dr. Braunwald, who is professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston. A lot of his colleagues were surprised and said, “It’s just one trial.”
“Now we have three trials,” with the addition of thetrial for canagliflozin ( ) and the trial ( ) for dapagliflozin reported at the AHA meeting in November.
“We are in the midst of two pandemics: heart failure and type 2 diabetes. As cardiologists, we have to learn how to deal with this,” said Dr. Braunwald, and the evidence now clearly shows that these drugs can help with that.
As another speaker at the meeting,, a heart failure specialist, observed in a separate talk at the meeting, “Heart failure is one of the most common, if not the most common complication, of patients with diabetes.” This tight link between heart failure and diabetes helps make cardiovascular mortality “the number one cause of death” in patients with diabetes, said Dr. Butler, professor and chairman of medicine at the University of Mississippi in Jackson.
“Thanks to the cardiovascular outcome trials, we now have a much broader and deeper appreciation of heart failure and renal disease as integral components of the cardiovascular-renal spectrum in people with diabetes,” said