From the Journals

Heart failure hospitalization risk lower with SGLT2 inhibitors than GLP-1 RAs



When it comes to protecting diabetic hearts, sodium-glucose cotransporter-2 (SGLT2) inhibitors may have a slight edge over glucagonlike peptide-1 receptor agonists (GLP-1 RAs) according to the results of large, population-based, observational cohort study.

Dr. Elisabetta Patomo of Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston

Dr. Elisabetta Patomo

Around a 30% reduction in the risk for being hospitalized for heart failure was achieved in people with type 2 diabetes who were treated with a SGLT2 inhibitor over a GLP-1 RA regardless of whether the patients had a preexisting heart condition.

The findings, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, also showed a 10% lower risk for myocardial infarction or stroke among those treated with a SGLT2 inhibitor who had preexisting cardiovascular disease (CVD), although there was no difference in risk between the two classes of drugs in those without preexisting CVD.

“These findings are important as they suggest that SGLT2 [inhibitors] and GLP-1 RA offer similar benefits in preventing myocardial infarction and stroke in patients with diabetes,” said study investigator Elisabetta Patorno, MD, DrPH, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, in an interview.

They also show “that SGLT2 [inhibitors] offer greater efficacy in preventing heart failure, which supports the existing guidelines,” she added.

Paul S. Jellinger, MD, MACE, of the Center for Diabetes and Endocrine Care in Hollywood, Fla., said these data were likely to be “additive to guidelines but not transformative.” The overall analysis results were “not surprising.” It was not unexpected that SGLT2 inhibitors provided a robust chronic heart failure (CHF) benefit, particularly in individuals with history of CVD, he said.

Dr. Jellinger, a clinical endocrinologist and professor of clinical medicine on the voluntary faculty at the University of Miami, observed, however, that “the similar CVD benefit in both drug classes in patients without known CVD adds to our knowledge in this somewhat controversial area and may be useful to the clinician in evaluating therapy in a diabetic individual without evidence of or at high risk for CHF.”

Furthermore, “the study also reminds us that, as demonstrated in published meta-analysis, there is also a modest CHF benefit associated with GLP-1 RA treatment particularly in patients with a history of CVD.”

Addressing the knowledge gap

Thanks to the results of many large-scale, prospective, cardiovascular outcomes studies, both SGLT2 inhibitors and GLP1 RA have been recommended as treatment for people with diabetes who have established CVD. But with no direct head-to-head trials having been conducted, there is a gap in knowledge and there is currently little guidance for physicians on which drug class to choose for an individual patient.

To try to clarify things, Dr. Patorno and associates looked at data from more than 370,000 people with type 2 diabetes who had been treated between April 2013 and December 2017 with either a SGLT2 inhibitor (canagliflozin, dapagliflozin, or empagliflozin) or GLP-1 RA (albiglutide, dulaglutide, exenatide, or liraglutide).

One-to-one propensity score matching was used to create the study groups: participants were first grouped according to their history of CVD, and then by the class of drug they had been prescribed. The primary outcomes were hospitalization for MI, stroke, or heart failure.

Comparing the initiation of a SGLT2 inhibitor with GLP-1 RA therapy, the hazard ratios (HRs) for MI or stroke in patients with and without a history of CVD were a respective 0.90 (95% CI, 0.82 to 0.98) and 1.07 (0.97 to 1.18).

The corresponding hazard ratios for heart failure hospitalizations were 0.71 (0.64 to 0.79) and 0.69 (0.56 to 0.85).


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