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BMJ. 2007 Sep 8;335(7618):497. Epub 2007 Aug 30.

Benefits and harms of antidiabetic agents in patients with diabetes and heart failure: systematic review.

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  • 1Institute of Health Economics, Edmonton, AB, Canada, T5J 3N4.



To review the literature on the association between antidiabetic agents and morbidity and mortality in people with heart failure and diabetes.


Systematic review and meta-analysis of controlled studies (randomised trials or cohort studies) evaluating antidiabetic agents and outcomes (death and admission to hospital) in patients with heart failure and diabetes.


Electronic databases, manual reference search, and contact with investigators.


Two reviewers independently extracted data. Risk estimates for specific treatments were abstracted and pooled estimates derived by meta-analysis where appropriate.


Eight studies were included. Three of four studies found that insulin use was associated with increased risk for all cause mortality (odds ratio 1.25, 95% confidence interval 1.03 to 1.51; 3.42, 1.40 to 8.37 in studies that did not adjust for diet and antidiabetic drugs; hazard ratio 1.66, 1.20 to 2.31; 0.96, 0.88 to 1.05 in the studies that did). Metformin was associated with significantly reduced all cause mortality in two studies (hazard ratio 0.86, 0.78 to 0.97) compared with other antidiabetic drugs and insulin; 0.70, 0.54 to 0.91 compared with sulfonylureas); a similar trend was seen in a third. Metformin was not associated with increased hospital admission for any cause or for heart failure specifically. In four studies, use of thiazolidinediones was associated with reduced all cause mortality (pooled odds ratio 0.83, 0.71 to 0.97, I2=52%, P=0.02). Thiazolidinediones were associated with increased risk of hospital admission for heart failure (pooled odds ratio 1.13 (1.04 to 1.22), I2=0%, P=0.004). The two studies of sulfonylureas had conflicting results, probably because of differences in comparator treatments. Important limitations were noted in all studies.


Metformin was the only antidiabetic agent not associated with harm in patients with heart failure and diabetes. It was associated with reduced all cause mortality in two of the three studies.

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