Diuretics and diabetes incidence - an appeal against the reluctance to prescribe a medication that is safe and proven

Publikation aus Health

A. Siebenhofer, Jeitler K., Rakovac I., K. Horvath

Diabetic Medicine 27 (2): 130-135., 2/2010


The publication of the scientific report of the Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG) in Germany on the 'Comparative evaluation of the benefits and harms of different antihypertensive drug classes [diuretics, beta-blockers, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, calcium-channel blockers and angiotensin II (AT-II) blockers] as first-choice therapy for patients with essential hypertension' raised an enormous public debate, particularly as diabetes incidence was not judged to be a patient-relevant outcome. In this assessment, the overall view of the patient-relevant results was that diuretics can be used as first-line antihypertensive treatment. Diabetes incidence is highest with diuretics, but minimal differences in fasting plasma glucose of approximately 0.28 mmol/l are magnified by the transformation of continuous blood glucose values into categorical data: with the establishment of thresholds, the diagnosis of diabetes depends on being above a certain blood glucose value. The protective cardiovascular effects of diuretics do not seem to be reduced in hypertensive patients who develop new-onset diabetes during treatment. Since blood pressure control is often worse, detection, treatment and control should be urgently improved. The debate on antihypertensive agents is mainly of scientific interest and has only minor clinical relevance for everyday patient care.