OBJECTIVE Evidence is inconsistent for the association between sulfonylurea use and risk of cardiovascular disease among patients with diabetes. We aimed to prospectively evaluate this association using the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS), a well-established cohort of U.S. women with long-term follow-up.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS We followed 4,902 women (mean age 68 years) with diabetes (mean duration 11 years), but without cardiovascular disease at baseline. The use of sulfonylureas and other medications was self-reported at baseline and during the follow-up period of up to 10 years. Cox proportional hazard regression models were used to estimate the relative risk (RR) and 95% CI for the association between the sulfonylurea use and incident cardiovascular disease while accounting for potential confounders, including age, diabetes duration, diabetes-related complications, other antihyperglycemic medications, BMI, lifestyle factors, family history of cardiovascular diseases, and present chronic conditions. We also applied the propensity score stratification method to address the possibility of residual confounding.
RESULTS We identified 339 incident cases of cardiovascular disease, including 191 cases of coronary heart disease (CHD) and 148 cases of stroke. A longer duration of sulfonylurea use was significantly associated with a higher risk of CHD (P for trend = 0.002); the RRs for CHD were 1.24 (95% CI 0.85–1.81) for patients who used sulfonylurea therapy for 1–5 years, 1.51 (0.94–2.42) for 6–10 years, and 2.15 (1.31–3.54) for >10 years, compared with nonusers. Compared with users of metformin monotherapy, the RR for CHD was 3.27 (1.31–8.17) for those who were treated with the combination of metformin and sulfonylurea. The analysis using propensity score stratification yielded similar results. We did not observe a significant association between sulfonylurea therapy and stroke risk.
CONCLUSIONS Long-term use of sulfonylureas was associated with a significantly higher risk of developing CHD among women with diabetes.
- Received May 22, 2014.
- Accepted July 27, 2014.
- © 2014 by the American Diabetes Association. Readers may use this article as long as the work is properly cited, the use is educational and not for profit, and the work is not altered.