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Impact of Glycemic Treatment Choices on Cardiovascular Complications in Type 2 Diabetes

Weiss, Irene A. MD; Valiquette, Guy MD; Schwarcz, Monica D. MD

doi: 10.1097/CRD.0b013e3181a7b34c
Review Article

As the diabetic population has significant morbidity and mortality from cardiovascular disease (CVD), much of its medical care focuses on CVD prevention and treatment. Some medications used to treat hyperglycemia may have beneficial effects on CV outcomes, others may have negative effects, while still others seem to have no direct effect. Although past epidemiological studies have shown a relationship between glycated hemoglobin levels and CV events in patients with type 2 diabetes, recent large randomized clinical trials (ACCORD, ADVANCE, and VADT) lasting 3.5 to 5.6 years have found that intensive glycemic control either has no impact on CV outcomes or even worsens them. Results of the 10-year follow-up of the UKPDS suggest that tight glycemic control of younger, newly diagnosed patients with type 2 diabetes may have CV benefits many years later. Because the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis spans decades, it may be that beneficial effects of tight glycemic control on CV outcomes are mainly in younger patients without established macrovascular disease. There is an emerging notion that tight glycemic control may be beneficial in primary prevention of CVD in younger patients with diabetes, but may become deleterious in older patients with established or subclinical CVD. Thus, while tight control may lessen microvascular disease, it may increase the risk of hypoglycemia and possibly of adverse CV events. In each patient, the goals of glycemic control need to be individualized based on age, overall prognosis, presence of macrovascular disease, and risk of hypoglycemia.

From the Department of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology, New York Medical College/Westchester Medical Center, Valhalla, New York.

Correspondence: Irene A. Weiss, MD, Division of Endocrinology, New York Medical College, Valhalla, NY 10595. E-mail:

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.