Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease: risk reduction and early intervention

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Postgraduate medicine


People with type 2 diabetes (T2D) have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) than those without. This increased risk begins with pre-diabetes, potentially 7-10 years before T2D is diagnosed. Selecting medication for patients with T2D should focus on reducing the risk of CVD and established CVD. Within the last decade, several antihyperglycemic agents with proven cardiovascular (CV) benefit have been approved for the treatment of hyperglycemia and for the prevention of primary and secondary CV events, including glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists (GLP-1RAs) and sodium-glucose cotransporter-2 inhibitors. T2D treatment guidelines recommend that an antihyperglycemic agent with proven CV benefit should be used after metformin in patients with high risk of or established CVD, regardless of glycated hemoglobin levels. Despite the availability of antihyperglycemic agents with proven CV benefit, and guidelines on when to use them, less than one in four patients with T2D and CVD receive this type of therapy. These findings suggest a potential gap between current recommendations and clinical practice. This article reviews the approved agents with CV indications, with a focus on injectable GLP-1RAs, and their place in the T2D treatment paradigm according to current guidelines. We aim to provide primary healthcare providers with in-depth information on subsets of patients who would benefit from this type of therapy and when it should be initiated, taking into consideration safety and tolerability and other disease factors. An individualized treatment approach is increasingly recommended in the management of T2D, employing a shared decision-making strategy between patients and healthcare professionals.

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ePub ahead of print