Cardiovascular disease and glycemic control in type 2 diabetes: now that the dust is settling from large clinical trials

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The relationship between glucose control and cardiovascular outcomes in type 2 diabetes has been a matter of controversy over the years. Although epidemiological evidence exists in favor of an adverse role of poor glucose control on cardiovascular events, intervention trials have been less conclusive. The Action to Control Cardiovascular Risk in Diabetes (ACCORD) study, the Action in Diabetes and Vascular Disease (ADVANCE) study, and the Veterans Affairs Diabetes Trial (VADT) have shown no beneficial effect of intensive glucose control on primary cardiovascular endpoints in type 2 diabetes. However, subgroup analysis has provided evidence suggesting that the potential beneficial effect largely depends on patients’ characteristics, including age, diabetes duration, previous glucose control, presence of cardiovascular disease, and risk of hypoglycemia. The benefit of strict glucose control on cardiovascular outcomes and mortality may be indeed hampered by the extent and frequency of hypoglycemic events and could be enhanced if glucose-lowering medications, capable of exerting favorable effects on the cardiovascular system, were used. This review examines the relationship between intensive glucose control and cardiovascular outcomes in type 2 diabetes, addressing the need for individualization of glucose targets and careful consideration of the benefit/risk profile of antidiabetes medications.

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