A Vanderbilt study examining the impact of the two most commonly prescribed oral diabetes medications on the risk for heart attack, stroke and death has found the drug metformin has benefits over sulfonylurea drugs.
It was important to examine the cardiovascular impact of the more commonly used diabetes drugs after recent controversy surrounded another diabetes medication, rosiglitazone, because it was associated with an increased cardiac risk, said lead author, Christianne L. Roumie, M.D., MPH, assistant professor of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics. Smaller studies pointed to a potential advantage of taking the drug metformin but this study confirms this in a large population.
"We demonstrated that for every 1,000 patients who are using metformin for a year there are two fewer heart attacks, strokes or deaths compared with patients who use sulfonylureas. I think this reinforces the recommendation that metformin should be used as the first medication to treat diabetes," Roumie said.
The researchers looked at the charts of more than 250,000 veterans receiving care in Veterans Health Administration hospitals throughout the United States. The patients were started on oral therapy for their diabetes with either metformin or a sulfonylurea and followed for about a year. Results are in the Nov. 6 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine.