Objective To assess the effect of targeting intensive glycaemic control versus conventional glycaemic control on all cause mortality and cardiovascular mortality, non-fatal myocardial infarction, microvascular complications, and severe hypoglycaemia in patients with type 2 diabetes.
Design Systematic review with meta-analyses and trial sequential analyses of randomised trials.
Data sources Cochrane Library, Medline, Embase, Science Citation Index Expanded, LILACS, and CINAHL to December 2010; hand search of reference lists and conference proceedings; contacts with authors, relevant pharmaceutical companies, and the US Food and Drug Administration.
Study selection Randomised clinical trials comparing targeted intensive glycaemic control with conventional glycaemic control in patients with type 2 diabetes. Published and unpublished trials in all languages were included, irrespective of predefined outcomes.
Data extraction Two reviewers independently assessed studies for inclusion and extracted data related to study methods, interventions, outcomes, risk of bias, and adverse events. Risk ratios with 95% confidence intervals were estimated with fixed and random effects models.
Results Fourteen clinical trials that randomised 28 614 participants with type 2 diabetes (15 269 to intensive control and 13 345 to conventional control) were included. Intensive glycaemic control did not significantly affect the relative risks of all cause (1.02, 95% confidence interval 0.91 to 1.13; 28 359 participants, 12 trials) or cardiovascular mortality (1.11, 0.92 to 1.35; 28 359 participants, 12 trials). Trial sequential analyses rejected a relative risk reduction above 10% for all cause mortality and showed insufficient data on cardiovascular mortality. The risk of non-fatal myocardial infarction may be reduced (relative risk 0.85, 0.76 to 0.95; P=0.004; 28 111 participants, 8 trials), but this finding was not confirmed in trial sequential analysis. Intensive glycaemic control showed a reduction of the relative risks for the composite microvascular outcome (0.88, 0.79 to 0.97; P=0.01; 25 600 participants, 3 trials) and retinopathy (0.80, 0.67 to 0.94; P=0.009; 10 793 participants, 7 trials), but trial sequential analyses showed that sufficient evidence had not yet been reached. The estimate of an effect on the risk of nephropathy (relative risk 0.83, 0.64 to 1.06; 27 769 participants, 8 trials) was not statistically significant. The risk of severe hypoglycaemia was significantly increased when intensive glycaemic control was targeted (relative risk 2.39, 1.71 to 3.34; 27 844 participants, 9 trials); trial sequential analysis supported a 30% increased relative risk of severe hypoglycaemia.
Conclusion Intensive glycaemic control does not seem to reduce all cause mortality in patients with type 2 diabetes. Data available from randomised clinical trials remain insufficient to prove or refute a relative risk reduction for cardiovascular mortality, non-fatal myocardial infarction, composite microvascular complications, or retinopathy at a magnitude of 10%. Intensive glycaemic control increases the relative risk of severe hypoglycaemia by 30%.