Cardiovascular drugs as antidiabetic agents: evidence for the prevention of type 2 diabetes

D P Macfarlane, K R Paterson, M Fisher
Diabetes, Obesity & Metabolism 2008, 10 (7): 533-44
Given the long-term health consequences and increasing incidence of type 2 diabetes, there is great interest to potentially prevent or delay its onset. Primary prevention studies have demonstrated that intensive exercise and weight reduction, and to a lesser extent certain antidiabetic agents, can reduce new onset diabetes in at-risk individuals. Results from post hoc analyses and secondary end-point outcomes of large randomized controlled trials of cardiovascular drugs suggest that these may also have beneficial effects, reducing the incidence of new onset diabetes in addition to their proven cardiovascular benefits. Multiple meta-analyses confirm that drugs primarily acting on the renin-angiotensin system (RAS) reduce the incidence of diabetes in the populations studied, perhaps via improved insulin sensitivity and/or effects on pancreatic beta cells. However, results from the recent Diabetes REduction Approaches with Medication study specifically failed to show a significant reduction in the incidence of diabetes with ramipril in individuals with abnormal glucose tolerance at baseline. There is only limited evidence that statins improve glucose tolerance, and although beta-blockers tend to have detrimental effects on glucose tolerance, newer agents with vasodilatory properties may confer benefits. With current guidelines, the use of cardiovascular drugs modifying the RAS will increase in at-risk individuals, but at present, they cannot be recommended to prevent diabetes.

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