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Cardiovascular effects of basal insulins

Authors Mannucci E, Giannini S, Dicembrini I

Received 30 October 2014

Accepted for publication 8 January 2015

Published 10 July 2015 Volume 2015:7 Pages 113—120


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 4

Editor who approved publication: Professor Shu-Feng Zhou

Edoardo Mannucci,1 Stefano Giannini,2 Ilaria Dicembrini1

1Diabetes Agency, Careggi Teaching Hospital, Florence, 2Section of Endocrinology, Department of Biomedical Clinical and Experimental Sciences, University of Florence and Careggi University Hospital, Florence, Italy

Abstract: Basal insulin is an important component of treatment for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. One of the principal aims of treatment in patients with diabetes is the prevention of diabetic complications, including cardiovascular disease. There is some evidence, although controversial, that attainment of good glycemic control reduces long-term cardiovascular risk in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The aim of this review is to provide an overview of the potential cardiovascular safety of the different available preparations of basal insulin. Current basal insulin (neutral protamine Hagedorn [NPH], or isophane) and basal insulin analogs (glargine, detemir, and the more recent degludec) differ essentially by various measures of pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic effects in the bloodstream, presence and persistence of peak action, and within-subject variability in the glucose-lowering response. The currently available data show that basal insulin analogs have a lower risk of hypoglycemia than NPH human insulin, in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, then excluding additional harmful effects on the cardiovascular system mediated by activation of the adrenergic system. Given that no biological rationale for a possible difference in cardiovascular effect of basal insulins has been proposed so far, available meta-analyses of publicly disclosed randomized controlled trials do not show any signal of increased risk of major cardiovascular events between the different basal insulin analogs. However, the number of available cardiovascular events in these trials is very small, preventing any clear-cut conclusion. The results of an ongoing clinical trial comparing glargine and degludec with regard to cardiovascular safety will provide definitive evidence.

Keywords: basal insulin, cardiovascular effects, long-acting insulin analog, cardiovascular risk

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