Novel antidiabetic drugs and cardiovascular risk: Primum non nocere

R. C. Bonadonna, C. Borghi, A. Consoli, M. Volpe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aims: Diabetes treatments aim at preventing undesirable metabolic effects of hyperglycemia and at preventing/reducing tissue damage, including cardiovascular (CV) events. For approval, novel diabetes drugs undergo early systematic investigation to assess CV safety. This review provides an updated analysis of the results of recent studies examining novel diabetes medications and CV outcomes. Data synthesis: The new regulatory guidelines enforce adjudication of all CV events when testing novel diabetes drugs. Endpoints of CV mortality, myocardial infarction (MI), stroke and hospitalization for heart failure (HF) were included in the most recent clinical studies on novel antihyperglycemics. These are: the incretin mimetics glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists (GLP1-RA), the incretin enhancers dipeptidylpeptidase-4 (DPP-4) inhibitors (DPP4-I or gliptins), and the sodium-glucose cotransporter (SGLT2) inhibitors (SGLT2-I or gliflozins). The studies ELIXA and EXAMINE, testing lixisenatide and alogliptin, respectively, revealed non-inferiority versus placebo in terms of CV safety. The SAVOR-TIMI 53 results confirmed overall CV safety of saxagliptin, but raised a warning related to the increase in the risk of hospitalization for HF in the saxagliptin group. Recently, TECOS revealed a particularly favorable CV profile for sitagliptin while EMPA-REG showed a significant CV risk reduction in empagliflozin treated subjects. Ongoing studies will provide additional data on CV safety for other GLP1-RAs, DPP4-I and SGLT2-I. Conclusions: Results of safety outcome studies focused on CV events, including HF and mortality for CV causes, are not homogeneous. A critical analysis of these studies may help cardiologists and diabetes specialists to adapt their therapeutic choices to individual patients.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Apr 15 2016


  • Antihyperglycemic drugs
  • Cardiovascular risk
  • Diabetes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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