Vascular Effects of Early versus Late Postmenopausal Treatment with Estradiol

BACKGROUND

Data suggest that estrogen-containing hormone therapy is associated with beneficial effects with regard to cardiovascular disease when the therapy is initiated temporally close to menopause but not when it is initiated later. However, the hypothesis that the cardiovascular effects of postmenopausal hormone therapy vary with the timing of therapy initiation (the hormone-timing hypothesis) has not been tested.

METHODS

A total of 643 healthy postmenopausal women were stratified according to time since menopause (<6 years [early postmenopause] or ≥10 years [late postmenopause]) and were randomly assigned to receive either oral 17β-estradiol (1 mg per day, plus progesterone [45 mg] vaginal gel administered sequentially [i.e., once daily for 10 days of each 30-day cycle] for women with a uterus) or placebo (plus sequential placebo vaginal gel for women with a uterus). The primary outcome was the rate of change in carotid-artery intima–media thickness (CIMT), which was measured every 6 months. Secondary outcomes included an assessment of coronary atherosclerosis by cardiac computed tomography (CT), which was performed when participants completed the randomly assigned regimen.

RESULTS

After a median of 5 years, the effect of estradiol, with or without progesterone, on CIMT progression differed between the early and late postmenopause strata (P=0.007 for the interaction). Among women who were less than 6 years past menopause at the time of randomization, the mean CIMT increased by 0.0078 mm per year in the placebo group versus 0.0044 mm per year in the estradiol group (P=0.008). Among women who were 10 or more years past menopause at the time of randomization, the rates of CIMT progression in the placebo and estradiol groups were similar (0.0088 and 0.0100 mm per year, respectively; P=0.29). CT measures of coronary-artery calcium, total stenosis, and plaque did not differ significantly between the placebo group and the estradiol group in either postmenopause stratum.

CONCLUSIONS

Oral estradiol therapy was associated with less progression of subclinical atherosclerosis (measured as CIMT) than was placebo when therapy was initiated within 6 years after menopause but not when it was initiated 10 or more years after menopause. Estradiol had no significant effect on cardiac CT measures of atherosclerosis in either postmenopause stratum. (Funded by the National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health; ELITE ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00114517.)

Randomized Trial of Longer-Term Therapy for Symptoms Attributed to Lyme Disease

BACKGROUND

The treatment of persistent symptoms attributed to Lyme disease remains controversial. We assessed whether longer-term antibiotic treatment of persistent symptoms attributed to Lyme disease leads to better outcomes than does shorter-term treatment.

METHODS

In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial conducted in Europe, we assigned patients with persistent symptoms attributed to Lyme disease — either related temporally to proven Lyme disease or accompanied by a positive IgG or IgM immunoblot assay for Borrelia burgdorferi — to receive a 12-week oral course of doxycycline, clarithromycin plus hydroxychloroquine, or placebo. All study groups received open-label intravenous ceftriaxone for 2 weeks before initiating the randomized regimen. The primary outcome measure was health-related quality of life, as assessed by the physical-component summary score of the RAND-36 Health Status Inventory (RAND SF-36) (range, 15 to 61, with higher scores indicating better quality of life), at the end of the treatment period at week 14, after the 2-week course of ceftriaxone and the 12-week course of the randomized study drug or placebo had been completed.

RESULTS

Of the 281 patients who underwent randomization, 280 were included in the modified intention-to-treat analysis (86 patients in the doxycycline group, 96 in the clarithromycin–hydroxychloroquine group, and 98 in the placebo group). The SF-36 physical-component summary score did not differ significantly among the three study groups at the end of the treatment period, with mean scores of 35.0 (95% confidence interval [CI], 33.5 to 36.5) in the doxycycline group, 35.6 (95% CI, 34.2 to 37.1) in the clarithromycin–hydroxychloroquine group, and 34.8 (95% CI, 33.4 to 36.2) in the placebo group (P=0.69; a difference of 0.2 [95% CI, –2.4 to 2.8] in the doxycycline group vs. the placebo group and a difference of 0.9 [95% CI, –1.6 to 3.3] in the clarithromycin–hydroxychloroquine group vs. the placebo group); the score also did not differ significantly among the groups at subsequent study visits (P=0.35). In all study groups, the SF-36 physical-component summary score increased significantly from baseline to the end of the treatment period (P<0.001). The rates of adverse events were similar among the study groups. Four serious adverse events thought to be related to drug use occurred during the 2-week open-label ceftriaxone phase, and no serious drug-related adverse event occurred during the 12-week randomized phase.

CONCLUSIONS

In patients with persistent symptoms attributed to Lyme disease, longer-term antibiotic treatment did not have additional beneficial effects on health-related quality of life beyond those with shorter-term treatment. (Funded by the Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development ZonMw; PLEASE ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT01207739.)

By Anneleen Berende et al, N Engl J Med 2016; 374:1209-1220March 31, 2016DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1505425

Diabetes treatments and risk of amputation, blindness, severe kidney failure, hyperglycaemia, and hypoglycaemia: open cohort study in primary care

Objective To assess the risks of amputation, blindness, severe kidney failure, hyperglycaemia, and hypoglycaemia in patients with type 2 diabetes associated with prescribed diabetes drugs, particularly newer agents including gliptins or glitazones (thiazolidinediones).

Design Open cohort study in primary care.

Setting 1243 practices contributing data to the QResearch database in England.

Participants 469 688 patients with type 2 diabetes aged 25-84 years between 1 April 2007 and 31 January 2015.

Exposures Hypoglycaemic agents (glitazones, gliptins, metformin, sulphonylureas, insulin, and other) alone and in combination.

Main outcome measures First recorded diagnoses of amputation, blindness, severe kidney failure, hyperglycaemia, and hypoglycaemia recorded on patients’ primary care, mortality, or hospital records. Cox models estimated hazard ratios for diabetes treatments adjusting for potential confounders.

Results 21 308 (4.5%) and 32 533 (6.9%) patients received prescriptions for glitazones and gliptins during follow-up, respectively. Compared with non-use, glitazones were associated with a decreased risk of blindness (adjusted hazard ratio 0.71, 95% confidence interval 0.57 to 0.89; rate 14.4 per 10 000 person years of exposure) and an increased risk of hypoglycaemia (1.22, 1.10 to 1.37; 65.1); gliptins were associated with a decreased risk of hypoglycaemia (0.86, 0.77 to 0.96; 45.8). Although the numbers of patients prescribed gliptin monotherapy or glitazones monotherapy were relatively low, there were significantly increased risks of severe kidney failure compared with metformin monotherapy (adjusted hazard ratio 2.55, 95% confidence interval 1.13 to 5.74). We found significantly lower risks of hyperglycaemia among patients prescribed dual therapy involving metformin with either gliptins (0.78, 0.62 to 0.97) or glitazones (0.60, 0.45 to 0.80) compared with metformin monotherapy. Patients prescribed triple therapy with metformin, sulphonylureas, and either gliptins (adjusted hazard ratio 5.07, 95% confidence interval 4.28 to 6.00) or glitazones (6.32, 5.35 to 7.45) had significantly higher risks of hypoglycaemia than those prescribed metformin monotherapy, but these risks were similar to those involving dual therapy with metformin and sulphonylureas (6.03, 5.47 to 6.63). Patients prescribed triple therapy with metformin, sulphonylureas, and glitazones had a significantly reduced risk of blindness compared with metformin monotherapy (0.67, 0.48 to 0.94).

Conclusions We have found lower risks of hyperglycaemia among patients prescribed dual therapy involving metformin with either gliptins or glitazones compared with metformin alone. Compared with metformin monotherapy, triple therapy with metformin, sulphonylureas, and either gliptins or glitazones was associated with an increased risk of hypoglycaemia, which was similar to the risk for dual therapy with metformin and sulphonylureas. Compared with metformin monotherapy, triple therapy with metformin, sulphonylureas, and glitazones was associated with a reduced risk of blindness. These results, while subject to residual confounding, could have implications for the prescribing of hypoglycaemic drugs.

By Julia Hippisley-Cox et al, BMJ 2016;352:i1450

Pioglitazone use and risk of bladder cancer: population based cohort study

Objective To determine whether pioglitazone compared with other antidiabetic drugs is associated with an increased risk of bladder cancer in people with type 2 diabetes.

Design Population based cohort study.

Setting General practices contributing data to the United Kingdom Clinical Practice Research Datalink.

Participants A cohort of 145 806 patients newly treated with antidiabetic drugs between 1 January 2000 and 31 July 2013, with follow-up until 31 July 2014.

Main outcome measures The use of pioglitazone was treated as a time varying variable, with use lagged by one year for latency purposes. Cox proportional hazards models were used to estimate adjusted hazard ratios with 95% confidence intervals of incident bladder cancer associated with pioglitazone overall and by both cumulative duration of use and cumulative dose. Similar analyses were conducted for rosiglitazone, a thiazolidinedione not previously associated with an increased risk of bladder cancer.

Results The cohort generated 689 616 person years of follow-up, during which 622 patients were newly diagnosed as having bladder cancer (crude incidence 90.2 per 100 000 person years). Compared with other antidiabetic drugs, pioglitazone was associated with an increased risk of bladder cancer (121.0 v 88.9 per 100 000 person years; hazard ratio 1.63, 95% confidence interval 1.22 to 2.19). Conversely, rosiglitazone was not associated with an increased risk of bladder cancer (86.2 v 88.9 per 100 000 person years; 1.10, 0.83 to 1.47). Duration-response and dose-response relations were observed for pioglitazone but not for rosiglitazone.

Conclusion The results of this large population based study indicate that pioglitazone is associated with an increased risk of bladder cancer. The absence of an association with rosiglitazone suggests that the increased risk is drug specific and not a class effect.

By Marco Tuccori et al, BMJ 2016;352:i1541

A Multicenter Observational Study of Incretin-based Drugs and Heart Failure

BACKGROUND

There is concern that antidiabetic incretin-based drugs, including dipeptidyl peptidase 4 (DPP-4) inhibitors and glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) analogues, can increase the risk of heart failure. Ongoing clinical trials may not have large enough samples to effectively address this issue.

METHODS

We applied a common protocol in the analysis of multiple cohorts of patients with diabetes. We used health care data from four Canadian provinces, the United States, and the United Kingdom. With the use of a nested case–control analysis, we matched each patient who was hospitalized for heart failure with up to 20 controls from the same cohort; matching was based on sex, age, cohort-entry date, duration of treated diabetes, and follow-up time. Cohort-specific hazard ratios for hospitalization due to heart failure among patients receiving incretin-based drugs, as compared with those receiving oral antidiabetic-drug combinations, were estimated by means of conditional logistic regression and pooled across cohorts with the use of random-effects models.

RESULTS

The cohorts included a total of 1,499,650 patients, with 29,741 hospitalized for heart failure (incidence rate, 9.2 events per 1000 persons per year). The rate of hospitalization for heart failure did not increase with the use of incretin-based drugs as compared with oral antidiabetic-drug combinations among patients with a history of heart failure (hazard ratio, 0.86; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.62 to 1.19) or among those without a history of heart failure (hazard ratio, 0.82; 95% CI, 0.67 to 1.00). The results were similar for DPP-4 inhibitors and GLP-1 analogues.

CONCLUSIONS

In this analysis of data from large cohorts of patients with diabetes, incretin-based drugs were not associated with an increased risk of hospitalization for heart failure, as compared with commonly used combinations of oral antidiabetic drugs. (Funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research; ClinicalTrials.gov number,NCT02456428.)

By Kristian B. Filion et al, N Engl J Med 2016; 374:1145-1154March 24, 2016

Antidepressant use and risk of cardiovascular outcomes in people aged 20 to 64: cohort study using primary care database

Objective To assess associations between different antidepressant treatments and rates of three cardiovascular outcomes (myocardial infarction, stroke or transient ischaemic attack, and arrhythmia) in people with depression.

Design Cohort study.

Setting UK general practices contributing to the QResearch primary care database.

Participants 238 963 patients aged 20 to 64 years with a first diagnosis of depression between 1 January 2000 and 31 July 2011.

Exposures Antidepressant class (tricyclic and related antidepressants, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, other antidepressants), dose, duration of use, and commonly prescribed individual antidepressant drugs.

Main outcome measures First diagnoses of myocardial infarction, stroke or transient ischaemic attack, and arrhythmia during five years’ follow-up. Cox proportional hazards models were used to estimate hazard ratios, adjusting for potential confounding variables.

Results During five years of follow-up, 772 patients had a myocardial infarction, 1106 had a stroke or transient ischaemic attack, and 1452 were diagnosed as having arrhythmia. No significant associations were found between antidepressant class and myocardial infarction over five years’ follow-up. In the first year of follow-up, patients treated with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors had a significantly reduced risk of myocardial infarction (adjusted hazard ratio 0.58, 95% confidence interval 0.42 to 0.79) compared with no use of antidepressants; among individual drugs, fluoxetine was associated with a significantly reduced risk (0.44, 0.27 to 0.72) and lofepramine with a significantly increased risk (3.07, 1.50 to 6.26). No significant associations were found between antidepressant class or individual drugs and risk of stroke or transient ischaemic attack. Antidepressant class was not significantly associated with arrhythmia over five years’ follow-up, although the risk was significantly increased during the first 28 days of treatment with tricyclic and related antidepressants (adjusted hazard ratio 1.99, 1.27 to 3.13). Fluoxetine was associated with a significantly reduced risk of arrhythmia (0.74, 0.59 to 0.92) over five years, but citalopram was not significantly associated with risk of arrhythmia even at high doses (1.11, 0.72 to 1.71 for doses ≥40 mg/day).

Conclusions This study found no evidence that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are associated with an increased risk of arrhythmia or stroke/transient ischaemic attack in people diagnosed as having depression between the ages of 20 to 64 or that citalopram is associated with a significantly increased risk of arrhythmia. It found some indication of a reduced risk of myocardial infarction with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, particularly fluoxetine, and of an increased risk with lofepramine.

By Carol Coupland et al, BMJ 2016;352:i1350

Antibiotic Exposure During the First 6 Months of Life and Weight Gain During Childhood

Importance  Early-life antibiotic exposure has been associated with increased adiposity in animal models, mediated through the gut microbiome. Infant antibiotic exposure is common and often inappropriate. Studies of the association between infant antibiotics and childhood weight gain have reported inconsistent results.

Objective  To assess the association between early-life antibiotic exposure and childhood weight gain.

Design and Setting  Retrospective, longitudinal study of singleton births and matched longitudinal study of twin pairs conducted in a network of 30 pediatric primary care practices serving more than 200 000 children of diverse racial and socioeconomic backgrounds across Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware.

Participants  Children born between November 1, 2001, and December 31, 2011, at 35 weeks’ gestational age or older, with birth weight of 2000 g or more and in the fifth percentile or higher for gestational age, and who had a preventive health visit within 14 days of life and at least 2 additional visits in the first year of life. Children with complex chronic conditions and those who received long-term antibiotics or multiple systemic corticosteroid prescriptions were excluded. We included 38 522 singleton children and 92 twins (46 matched pairs) discordant in antibiotic exposure. Final date of follow-up was December 31, 2012.

Exposure  Systemic antibiotic use in the first 6 months of life.

Main Outcomes and Measures  Weight, measured at preventive health visits from age 6 months through 7 years.

Results  Of 38 522 singleton children (50% female; mean birth weight, 3.4 kg), 5287 (14%) were exposed to antibiotics during the first 6 months of life (at a mean age of 4.3 months). Antibiotic exposure was not significantly associated with rate of weight change (0.7%; 95% CI, −0.1% to 1.5%;P = .07, equivalent to approximately 0.05 kg; 95% CI, −0.004 to 0.11 kg of added weight gain between age 2 years and 5 years). Among 92 twins (38% female; mean birth weight, 2.8 kg), the 46 twins who were exposed to antibiotics during the first 6 months of life received them at a mean age of 4.5 months. Antibiotic exposure was not significantly associated with a weight difference (−0.09 kg; 95% CI, −0.26 to 0.08 kg; P = .30).

Conclusions and Relevance  Exposure to antibiotics within the first 6 months of life compared with no exposure was not associated with a statistically significant difference in weight gain through age 7 years. There are many reasons to limit antibiotic exposure in young, healthy children, but weight gain is likely not one of them.

By Jeffrey S Geber et al, JAMA. 2016;315(12):1258-1265