Clinician Article

Intensive Glucose Control in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes - 15-Year Follow-up.

  • Reaven PD
  • Emanuele NV
  • Wiitala WL
  • Bahn GD
  • Reda DJ
  • McCarren M, et al.
N Engl J Med. 2019 Jun 6;380(23):2215-2224. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1806802. (Original)
PMID: 31167051
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  • Endocrine
    Relevance - 7/7
    Newsworthiness - 7/7
  • Family Medicine (FM)/General Practice (GP)
    Relevance - 7/7
    Newsworthiness - 6/7
  • General Internal Medicine-Primary Care(US)
    Relevance - 7/7
    Newsworthiness - 6/7
  • Cardiology
    Relevance - 6/7
    Newsworthiness - 6/7
  • Internal Medicine
    Relevance - 6/7
    Newsworthiness - 5/7


BACKGROUND: We previously reported that a median of 5.6 years of intensive as compared with standard glucose lowering in 1791 military veterans with type 2 diabetes resulted in a risk of major cardiovascular events that was significantly lower (by 17%) after a total of 10 years of combined intervention and observational follow-up. We now report the full 15-year follow-up.

METHODS: We observationally followed enrolled participants (complete cohort) after the conclusion of the original clinical trial by using central databases to identify cardiovascular events, hospitalizations, and deaths. Participants were asked whether they would be willing to provide additional data by means of surveys and chart reviews (survey cohort). The prespecified primary outcome was a composite of major cardiovascular events, including nonfatal myocardial infarction, nonfatal stroke, new or worsening congestive heart failure, amputation for ischemic gangrene, and death from cardiovascular causes. Death from any cause was a prespecified secondary outcome.

RESULTS: There were 1655 participants in the complete cohort and 1391 in the survey cohort. During the trial (which originally enrolled 1791 participants), the separation of the glycated hemoglobin curves between the intensive-therapy group (892 participants) and the standard-therapy group (899 participants) averaged 1.5 percentage points, and this difference declined to 0.2 to 0.3 percentage points by 3 years after the trial ended. Over a period of 15 years of follow-up (active treatment plus post-trial observation), the risks of major cardiovascular events or death were not lower in the intensive-therapy group than in the standard-therapy group (hazard ratio for primary outcome, 0.91; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.78 to 1.06; Pā€‰=ā€‰0.23; hazard ratio for death, 1.02; 95% CI, 0.88 to 1.18). The risk of major cardiovascular disease outcomes was reduced, however, during an extended interval of separation of the glycated hemoglobin curves (hazard ratio, 0.83; 95% CI, 0.70 to 0.99), but this benefit did not continue after equalization of the glycated hemoglobin levels (hazard ratio, 1.26; 95% CI, 0.90 to 1.75).

CONCLUSIONS: Participants with type 2 diabetes who had been randomly assigned to intensive glucose control for 5.6 years had a lower risk of cardiovascular events than those who received standard therapy only during the prolonged period in which the glycated hemoglobin curves were separated. There was no evidence of a legacy effect or a mortality benefit with intensive glucose control. (Funded by the VA Cooperative Studies Program; VADT ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00032487.).

Clinical Comments


Unfortunately, data regarding microvascular complications (e.g. retinopathy and neuropathy) are not provided.


This is an important study that provides support against a legacy effect of intensive glycemic control in type 2 diabetes for cardiovascular benefit, at least during the era before availability of newer cardioprotective anti-hyperglycemic agents.


Debunks a myth and it is highly worthy of circulation.

General Internal Medicine-Primary Care(US)

Important study suggesting the importance of the maintenance of glycemic control over time. The study also adds evidence that tight glycemic control can help reduce macrovascular, and not just microvascular, complications.

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