The interplay between glycaemia and cardiovascular disease

Preiss, David John (2011) The interplay between glycaemia and cardiovascular disease. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Numerous large clinical trials of cardiovascular risk lowering agents have been conducted in the hope of reducing the excess cardiovascular risk found in patients with diabetes mellitus. However, the relationship between glucose and cardiovascular disease remains complex and various areas require further study. Even in patients with diabetes, an individual’s cardiovascular risk is highly variable depending on other clinical characteristics, the assumption that glucose is a continuous risk factor has often been based on weak evidence from relatively short studies, the effect of commonly used cardiovascular risk lowering agents often has unexpected effects on new-onset diabetes and statins have not yet been studied in detail, and whether glucose-lowering therapies actually reduce cardiovascular risk has remained a contentious issue despite the conduct of large clinical trials. Furthermore, the realisation that the combination of diabetes and chronic heart failure, a common complication of coronary disease, carries a particularly poor prognosis suggests that prediction of diabetes in this population may be clinically valuable.

I aimed to address the following different, though related, questions regarding glucose and cardiovascular disease:
1. Are anticipated cardiovascular event rates in diabetes endpoint trials actually achieved? Is it possible to easily identify patients with diabetes that are at particular risk of events (information that is crucial to investigators who wish to design clinical trials)?
2. Is fasting glucose concentration independently and convincingly associated with increased risk of cardiovascular events in those without diabetes?
3. Do statins, the most commonly prescribed medications worldwide, have any influence on the risk of developing diabetes?
4. If statins do indeed affect new-onset diabetes, is there any evidence of a dose-dependent effect?
5. How effectively can clinicians predict the development of diabetes in chronic heart failure using commonly recorded clinical information?
6. Does intensive glucose-lowering therapy reduce the risk of cardiovascular events in patients with diabetes?

To address these questions three approaches were used, namely (i) systematic review of previously published data from large cardiovascular endpoint trials conducted in patients with diabetes; (ii) analyses of existing datasets from two large clinical trials; (iii) meta-analyses of published and unpublished data from large clinical trials.

Results and interpretation:
1. In a systematic review of 29 trials with 116,790 patients with diabetes, it was apparent that the majority of large cardiovascular endpoint trials conducted in patients with diabetes vastly overestimated the likely cardiovascular event rates in initial power calculations. Introduction of (i) previous history of cardiovascular disease and/or (ii) presence of proteinuria, as binary trial inclusion criteria, provides a simple and effective way to identify patients at high risk, something that is sought after for appropriate clinical trial power calculations.
2. In a population of 6,447 men without diabetes at baseline, impaired fasting glycaemia was not associated with increased risk of cardiovascular events over 15 years. Similarly, when baseline fasting glucose values <7.0mmol/L were split into quintiles, patients in the highest quintile were at similar risk of all vascular endpoints to those in the lowest. By contrast, impaired fasting glycaemia was a powerful risk factor for developing diabetes.
3. A meta-analysis of published and unpublished data from most large placebo- and standard care-controlled statin trials, which included data for 91,140 trial participants without diabetes at baseline, revealed that statin therapy is associated with a 9% higher risk for developing diabetes.
4. A subsequent meta-analysis of unpublished data from five large trials comparing intensive statin therapy with moderate dose therapy found that intensive statin therapy increases the risk of developing diabetes by 12% compared to moderate dosing, in keeping with a dose-dependent effect. While statin therapy remains effective at reducing cardiovascular risk it appears that patients on statin therapy, especially those on intensive regimens, should be considered for diabetes screening.
5. In an analysis of data for 1,620 patients with chronic heart failure and no diabetes at baseline studied for 2.8 years, the strongest predictors of new-onset diabetes were similar to those in the general population. In particular, the combination of HbA1c and body mass index provided a c-statistic of 0.79.
6. In a meta-analysis of published data for 33,040 patients with diabetes who participated in clinical trials comparing intensive glucose-lowering therapy with standard therapy, non-fatal myocardial infarctions were reduced by 17% on intensive therapy but no other cardiovascular endpoints were reduced. Death rates were similar in both groups.

While diabetes is associated with excess cardiovascular risk, risk varies considerably depending on other risk factors. Glucose is, at best, a weak risk factor in those without diabetes, and glucose-lowering in patients with diabetes has only yielded a modest reduction in non-fatal myocardial infarctions but not other events; by contrast, measures of glycaemia are powerful predictors of new-onset diabetes in patients with and without chronic heart failure. Finally, the relationship between glucose and vascular disease is further complicated by the fact that numerous medications designed to reduce cardiovascular risk appear to have surprising effects on the risk of developing diabetes.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: diabetes, glucose, cardiovascular disease, risk prediction, clinical trial
Subjects: R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
R Medicine > RB Pathology
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine
Colleges/Schools: College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences
Supervisor's Name: Sattar, Prof. Naveed and McMurray, Prof. John J.
Date of Award: 2011
Depositing User: Dr David J Preiss
Unique ID: glathesis:2011-3038
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 02 Dec 2011
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2012 14:03

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