Cardiovascular outcomes associated with canagliflozin versus other non-gliflozin antidiabetic drugs: population based cohort study

Objective To evaluate the cardiovascular safety of canagliflozin, a sodium-glucose cotransporter 2 inhibitor for the treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus, in direct comparisons with DPP-4 inhibitors (DPP-4i), GLP-1 receptor agonists (GLP-1RA), or sulfonylureas, as used in routine practice.

Design Population based retrospective cohort study.

Setting Nationwide sample of patients with type 2 diabetes from a large de-identified US commercial healthcare database (Optum Clinformatics Datamart).

Participants Three pairwise 1:1 propensity score matched cohorts of patients with type 2 diabetes 18 years and older who initiated canagliflozin or a comparator non-gliflozin antidiabetic agent (ie, a DPP-4i, a GLP-1RA, or a sulfonylurea) between April 2013 and September 2015.

Main outcome measures The primary outcomes were heart failure admission to hospital and a composite cardiovascular endpoint (comprised of being admitted to hospital for acute myocardial infarction, ischemic stroke, or hemorrhagic stroke). Hazard ratios and 95% confidence intervals were estimated in each propensity score matched cohort controlling for more than 100 baseline characteristics.

Results During a 30 month period, the hazard ratio for heart failure admission to hospital associated with canagliflozin was 0.70 (95% confidence interval 0.54 to 0.92) versus a DPP-4i (n=17 667 pairs), 0.61 (0.47 to 0.78) versus a GLP-1RA (20 539), and 0.51 (0.38 to 0.67) versus a sulfonylurea (17 354 ). The hazard ratio for the composite cardiovascular endpoint associated with canagliflozin was 0.89 (0.68 to 1.17) versus a DPP-4i, 1.03 (0.79 to 1.35) versus a GLP-1RA, and 0.86 (0.65 to 1.13) versus a sulfonylurea. Results were similar in sensitivity analyses further adjusting for baseline hemoglobin A1c levels and in subgroups of patients with and without prior cardiovascular disease or heart failure.

Conclusions In this large cohort study, canagliflozin was associated with a lower risk of heart failure admission to hospital and with a similar risk of myocardial infarction or stroke in direct comparisons with three different classes of non-gliflozin diabetes treatment alternatives as used in routine care.

Reference: BMJ 2018;360:k119


Cancer risk associated with chronic diseases and disease markers: prospective cohort study

Objectives To assess the independent and joint associations of major chronic diseases and disease markers with cancer risk and to explore the benefit of physical activity in reducing the cancer risk associated with chronic diseases and disease markers.

Design Prospective cohort study.

Setting Standard medical screening program in Taiwan.

Participants 405 878 participants, for whom cardiovascular disease markers (blood pressure, total cholesterol, and heart rate), diabetes, chronic kidney disease markers (proteinuria and glomerular filtration rate), pulmonary disease, and gouty arthritis marker (uric acid) were measured or diagnosed according to standard methods, were followed for an average of 8.7 years.

Main outcome measures Cancer incidence and cancer mortality.

Results A statistically significantly increased risk of incident cancer was observed for the eight diseases and markers individually (except blood pressure and pulmonary disease), with adjusted hazard ratios ranging from 1.07 to 1.44. All eight diseases and markers were statistically significantly associated with risk of cancer death, with adjusted hazard ratios ranging from 1.12 to 1.70. Chronic disease risk scores summarizing the eight diseases and markers were positively associated with cancer risk in a dose-response manner, with the highest scores associated with a 2.21-fold (95% confidence interval 1.77-fold to 2.75-fold) and 4.00-fold (2.84-fold to 5.63-fold) higher cancer incidence and cancer mortality, respectively. High chronic disease risk scores were associated with substantial years of life lost, and the highest scores were associated with 13.3 years of life lost in men and 15.9 years of life lost in women. The population attributable fractions of cancer incidence or cancer mortality from the eight chronic diseases and markers together were comparable to those from five major lifestyle factors combined (cancer incidence: 20.5% v 24.8%; cancer mortality: 38.9% v 39.7%). Among physically active (versus inactive) participants, the increased cancer risk associated with chronic diseases and markers was attenuated by 48% for cancer incidence and 27% for cancer mortality.

Conclusions Chronic disease is an overlooked risk factor for cancer, as important as five major lifestyle factors combined. In this study, chronic diseases contributed to more than one fifth of the risk for incident cancer and more than one third of the risk for cancer death. Physical activity is associated with a nearly 40% reduction in the cancer risk associated with chronic diseases.

Reference: BMJ 2018;360:k134

Migraine and risk of cardiovascular diseases: Danish population based matched cohort study

Objective To examine the risks of myocardial infarction, stroke (ischaemic and haemorrhagic), peripheral artery disease, venous thromboembolism, atrial fibrillation or atrial flutter, and heart failure in patients with migraine and in a general population comparison cohort.

Design Nationwide, population based cohort study.

Setting All Danish hospitals and hospital outpatient clinics from 1995 to 2013.

Participants 51 032 patients with migraine and 510 320 people from the general population matched on age, sex, and calendar year.

Main outcome measures Comorbidity adjusted hazard ratios of cardiovascular outcomes based on Cox regression analysis.

Results Higher absolute risks were observed among patients with incident migraine than in the general population across most outcomes and follow-up periods. After 19 years of follow-up, the cumulative incidences per 1000 people for the migraine cohort compared with the general population were 25 v 17 for myocardial infarction, 45 v 25 for ischaemic stroke, 11 v 6 for haemorrhagic stroke, 13 v 11 for peripheral artery disease, 27 v 18 for venous thromboembolism, 47 v 34 for atrial fibrillation or atrial flutter, and 19 v 18 for heart failure. Correspondingly, migraine was positively associated with myocardial infarction (adjusted hazard ratio 1.49, 95% confidence interval 1.36 to 1.64), ischaemic stroke (2.26, 2.11 to 2.41), and haemorrhagic stroke (1.94, 1.68 to 2.23), as well as venous thromboembolism (1.59, 1.45 to 1.74) and atrial fibrillation or atrial flutter (1.25, 1.16 to 1.36). No meaningful association was found with peripheral artery disease (adjusted hazard ratio 1.12, 0.96 to 1.30) or heart failure (1.04, 0.93 to 1.16). The associations, particularly for stroke outcomes, were stronger during the short term (0-1 years) after diagnosis than the long term (up to 19 years), in patients with aura than in those without aura, and in women than in men. In a subcohort of patients, the associations persisted after additional multivariable adjustment for body mass index and smoking.

Conclusions Migraine was associated with increased risks of myocardial infarction, ischaemic stroke, haemorrhagic stroke, venous thromboembolism, and atrial fibrillation or atrial flutter. Migraine may be an important risk factor for most cardiovascular diseases.

Reference: BMJ 2018;360:k96

Low cigarette consumption and risk of coronary heart disease and stroke: meta-analysis of 141 cohort studies in 55 study reports

Objective To use the relation between cigarette consumption and cardiovascular disease to quantify the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke for light smoking (one to five cigarettes/day).

Design Systematic review and meta-analysis.

Data sources Medline 1946 to May 2015, with manual searches of references.

Eligibility criteria for selecting studies Prospective cohort studies with at least 50 events, reporting hazard ratios or relative risks (both hereafter referred to as relative risk) compared with never smokers or age specific incidence in relation to risk of coronary heart disease or stroke.

Data extraction/synthesis MOOSE guidelines were followed. For each study, the relative risk was estimated for smoking one, five, or 20 cigarettes per day by using regression modelling between risk and cigarette consumption. Relative risks were adjusted for at least age and often additional confounders. The main measure was the excess relative risk for smoking one cigarette per day (RR1_per_day−1) expressed as a proportion of that for smoking 20 cigarettes per day (RR20_per_day−1), expected to be about 5% assuming a linear relation between risk and consumption (as seen with lung cancer). The relative risks for one, five, and 20 cigarettes per day were also pooled across all studies in a random effects meta-analysis. Separate analyses were done for each combination of sex and disorder.

Results The meta-analysis included 55 publications containing 141 cohort studies. Among men, the pooled relative risk for coronary heart disease was 1.48 for smoking one cigarette per day and 2.04 for 20 cigarettes per day, using all studies, but 1.74 and 2.27 among studies in which the relative risk had been adjusted for multiple confounders. Among women, the pooled relative risks were 1.57 and 2.84 for one and 20 cigarettes per day (or 2.19 and 3.95 using relative risks adjusted for multiple factors). Men who smoked one cigarette per day had 46% of the excess relative risk for smoking 20 cigarettes per day (53% using relative risks adjusted for multiple factors), and women had 31% of the excess risk (38% using relative risks adjusted for multiple factors). For stroke, the pooled relative risks for men were 1.25 and 1.64 for smoking one or 20 cigarettes per day (1.30 and 1.56 using relative risks adjusted for multiple factors). In women, the pooled relative risks were 1.31 and 2.16 for smoking one or 20 cigarettes per day (1.46 and 2.42 using relative risks adjusted for multiple factors). The excess risk for stroke associated with one cigarette per day (in relation to 20 cigarettes per day) was 41% for men and 34% for women (or 64% and 36% using relative risks adjusted for multiple factors). Relative risks were generally higher among women than men.

Conclusions Smoking only about one cigarette per day carries a risk of developing coronary heart disease and stroke much greater than expected: around half that for people who smoke 20 per day. No safe level of smoking exists for cardiovascular disease. Smokers should aim to quit instead of cutting down to significantly reduce their risk of these two common major disorders.

Reference:  BMJ 2018;360:j5855

Incremental effects of antihypertensive drugs: instrumental variable analysis

Objectives To assess the incremental effects of adding extra antihypertensive drugs from a new class to a patient’s regimen.

Design Instrumental variable analysis of data from SPRINT (Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial). To account for confounding by indication—when treatments seem less effective if they are administered to sicker patients—randomization status was used as the instrumental variable. Patients’ randomization status was either intensive (systolic blood pressure target <120 mm Hg) or standard (systolic blood pressure target <140 mm Hg) treatment. Results from instrumental variable models were compared with those from standard multivariable models.

Setting Secondary data analysis of a randomized clinical trial conducted at 102 sites in 2010-15.

Participants 9092 SPRINT participants with hypertension and increased cardiovascular risk but no history of diabetes or stroke.

Main outcomes measures Systolic blood pressure, major cardiovascular events, and serious adverse events.

Results In standard multivariable models not adjusted for confounding by indication, addition of an antihypertensive drug from a new class was associated with modestly lower systolic blood pressure (−1.3 mm Hg, 95% confidence interval −1.6 to −1.0) and no change in major cardiovascular events (absolute risk of events per 1000 patient years, 0.5, 95% confidence interval −1.5 to 2.3). In instrumental variable models, the addition of an antihypertensive drug from a new class led to clinically important reductions in systolic blood pressure (−14.4 mm Hg, −15.6 to −13.3) and fewer major cardiovascular events (absolute risk −6.2, −10.9 to −1.3). Incremental reductions in systolic blood pressure remained large and similar in magnitude for patients already taking drugs from zero, one, two, or three or more drug classes. This finding was consistent across all subgroups of patients. The addition of another antihypertensive drug class was not associated with adverse events in either standard or instrumental variable models.

Conclusions After adjustment for confounding by indication, the addition of a new antihypertensive drug class led to large reductions in systolic blood pressure and major cardiovascular events among patients at high risk for cardiovascular events but without diabetes. Effects on systolic blood pressure persisted across all levels of baseline drug use and all subgroups of patients.

Reference: BMJ 2017;359:j5542

Improving adherence to healthy dietary patterns, genetic risk, and long term weight gain: gene-diet interaction analysis in two prospective cohort studies

Objective To investigate whether improving adherence to healthy dietary patterns interacts with the genetic predisposition to obesity in relation to long term changes in body mass index and body weight.

Design Prospective cohort study.

Setting Health professionals in the United States.

Participants 8828 women from the Nurses’ Health Study and 5218 men from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study.

Exposure Genetic predisposition score was calculated on the basis of 77 variants associated with body mass index. Dietary patterns were assessed by the Alternate Healthy Eating Index 2010 (AHEI-2010), Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension (DASH), and Alternate Mediterranean Diet (AMED).

Main outcome measures Five repeated measurements of four year changes in body mass index and body weight over follow-up (1986 to 2006).

Results During a 20 year follow-up, genetic association with change in body mass index was significantly attenuated with increasing adherence to the AHEI-2010 in the Nurses’ Health Study (P=0.001 for interaction) and Health Professionals Follow-up Study (P=0.005 for interaction). In the combined cohorts, four year changes in body mass index per 10 risk allele increment were 0.07 (SE 0.02) among participants with decreased AHEI-2010 score and −0.01 (0.02) among those with increased AHEI-2010 score, corresponding to 0.16 (0.05) kg versus −0.02 (0.05) kg weight change every four years (P<0.001 for interaction). Viewed differently, changes in body mass index per 1 SD increment of AHEI-2010 score were −0.12 (0.01), −0.14 (0.01), and −0.18 (0.01) (weight change: −0.35 (0.03), −0.36 (0.04), and −0.50 (0.04) kg) among participants with low, intermediate, and high genetic risk, respectively. Similar interaction was also found for DASH but not for AMED.

Conclusions These data indicate that improving adherence to healthy dietary patterns could attenuate the genetic association with weight gain. Moreover, the beneficial effect of improved diet quality on weight management was particularly pronounced in people at high genetic risk for obesity.

Reference: BMJ 2018;360:j5644

Primary care-led weight management for remission of type 2 diabetes (DiRECT): an open-label, cluster-randomised trial


Type 2 diabetes is a chronic disorder that requires lifelong treatment. We aimed to assess whether intensive weight management within routine primary care would achieve remission of type 2 diabetes.


We did this open-label, cluster-randomised trial (DiRECT) at 49 primary care practices in Scotland and the Tyneside region of England. Practices were randomly assigned (1:1), via a computer-generated list, to provide either a weight management programme (intervention) or best-practice care by guidelines (control), with stratification for study site (Tyneside or Scotland) and practice list size (>5700 or ≤5700). Participants, carers, and research assistants who collected outcome data were aware of group allocation; however, allocation was concealed from the study statistician. We recruited individuals aged 20–65 years who had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes within the past 6 years, had a body-mass index of 27–45 kg/m2, and were not receiving insulin. The intervention comprised withdrawal of antidiabetic and antihypertensive drugs, total diet replacement (825–853 kcal/day formula diet for 3–5 months), stepped food reintroduction (2–8 weeks), and structured support for long-term weight loss maintenance. Co-primary outcomes were weight loss of 15 kg or more, and remission of diabetes, defined as glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) of less than 6·5% (<48 mmol/mol) after at least 2 months off all antidiabetic medications, from baseline to 12 months. These outcomes were analysed hierarchically. This trial is registered with the ISRCTN registry, number 03267836.


Between July 25, 2014, and Aug 5, 2017, we recruited 306 individuals from 49 intervention (n=23) and control (n=26) general practices; 149 participants per group comprised the intention-to-treat population. At 12 months, we recorded weight loss of 15 kg or more in 36 (24%) participants in the intervention group and no participants in the control group (p<0·0001). Diabetes remission was achieved in 68 (46%) participants in the intervention group and six (4%) participants in the control group (odds ratio 19·7, 95% CI 7·8–49·8; p<0·0001). Remission varied with weight loss in the whole study population, with achievement in none of 76 participants who gained weight, six (7%) of 89 participants who maintained 0–5 kg weight loss, 19 (34%) of 56 participants with 5–10 kg loss, 16 (57%) of 28 participants with 10–15 kg loss, and 31 (86%) of 36 participants who lost 15 kg or more. Mean bodyweight fell by 10·0 kg (SD 8·0) in the intervention group and 1·0 kg (3·7) in the control group (adjusted difference −8·8 kg, 95% CI −10·3 to −7·3; p<0·0001). Quality of life, as measured by the EuroQol 5 Dimensions visual analogue scale, improved by 7·2 points (SD 21·3) in the intervention group, and decreased by 2·9 points (15·5) in the control group (adjusted difference 6·4 points, 95% CI 2·5–10·3; p=0·0012). Nine serious adverse events were reported by seven (4%) of 157 participants in the intervention group and two were reported by two (1%) participants in the control group. Two serious adverse events (biliary colic and abdominal pain), occurring in the same participant, were deemed potentially related to the intervention. No serious adverse events led to withdrawal from the study.


Our findings show that, at 12 months, almost half of participants achieved remission to a non-diabetic state and off antidiabetic drugs. Remission of type 2 diabetes is a practical target for primary care.