Coronary Heart Disease Linked to Long-Term Sulfonylurea Use

(HealthDay News) — Among women with diabetes, long-term use of sulfonylureas is associated with a significantly higher risk for incident coronary heart disease, according to a study published online in Diabetes Care.

Yanping Li, PhD, from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, and colleagues assessed self-reported use of sulfonylureas and other medications among 4,902 women (mean age, 68 years) with diabetes (mean duration, 11 years) over a 10-year period. Participants were free from cardiovascular disease (CVD) at baseline.

A total of 339 incident CVD cases were identified over the study period, according to the researchers, including 191 cases of coronary heart disease (CHD) and 148 cases of stroke. There was a significant association between longer duration of sulfonylurea use and increased risk for CHD (P for trend=.002). 

Compared with nonusers the relative risk (RR) for CHD was 1.24 (95% CI, 0.85-1.81) for patients who used sulfonylureas for 1 to 5 years; 1.51 (95% CI, 0.94-2.42) for 6 to 10 years; and 2.15 (95% CI, 1.31-3.54) for more than 10 years. 

The RR for CHD was 3.27 (95% CI, 1.31-8.17) for those who were treated with the combination of metformin and sulfonylurea vs. metformin monotherapy. 

Sulfonylurea therapy was not significantly associated with stroke risk.

“Long-term use of sulfonylureas was associated with a significantly higher risk of developing CHD among women with diabetes,” the researchers wrote.

Two authors disclosed financial ties to Merck, which partially funded the study.


  1. Li Y et al. Diabetes Care. 2014;doi:10.2337/dc14-1306.