Conference Coverage

SGLT2 inhibitor use tied to fewer atrial arrhythmias



Patients with cardiac implantable electronic devices (CIEDs) who received treatment with an sodium-glucose cotransporter 2 inhibitor had significantly fewer atrial arrhythmia events, compared with those who never received such a drug, in a prospective analysis of nearly 14,000 patients with a device who were followed for an average of nearly 2 years.

Dr. Ilan Goldenberg

The findings suggest that use of an agent from the class of SGLT2 inhibitors “is associated with a pronounced reduction in atrial arrhythmia burden and all-cause mortality in patients with a CIED in a real-world setting,” said Ilan Goldenberg, MD, at the American Heart Association scientific sessions. “These data indicate possible antiarrhythmic properties of SGLT2 inhibitors that are incremental to the beneficial effects of the drug on heart failure outcomes,” added Dr. Goldenberg, director of the Clinical Cardiovascular Research Center at the University of Rochester (N.Y.).

In a propensity score–matched analysis that included more than 5,000 of the enrolled patients with a CIED, treatment with an SGLT2 inhibitor was tied to a significant 23% relative reduction in atrial arrhythmia events and a 44% relative drop in all-cause death, he reported.

Effect mediated by reduced left atrial pressure?

“Other heart failure drugs have shown some decrease in the rate of sudden cardiac death, but this is the first [heart failure] drug to associate with a reduction in atrial arrhythmias,” Dr. Goldenberg noted. “We think that a reduction in left atrial pressure” produced by treatment with an SGLT2 inhibitor “may be linked to the reduction in atrial arrhythmias.”

The study did not show an association of SGLT2-inhibitor use and a change in ventricular arrhythmias, compared with patients with CIEDs who did not receive an agent from this class.

The findings suggest “expanding the possible indications for SGLT2 inhibitors,” commented Harriette G.C. Van Spall, MD, a cardiologist at McMaster University, Hamilton, Ont., who moderated the session where Dr. Goldenberg gave his report.

The study included 13,890 consecutive, prospectively enrolled patients who received a CIED during January 2015–April 2020 at any of five hospitals operated by either of two tertiary health care systems, one run by the University of Rochester and the second based at Sheba Medical Center in Tel HaShomer, Israel. The devices that made patients eligible for the study included permanent pacemakers, implantable cardioverter defibrillators, cardiac resynchronization therapy devices, and implantable cardiac monitors. A blinded adjudication committee composed of electrophysiologists identified the arrhythmic episodes.

At entry into the study (the time of device implantation), 12,992 patients were not receiving an SGLT2 inhibitor (94%) and 898 (6%) were receiving a drug from this class. Of those, 39% were on dapagliflozin (Farxiga), 35% were on empagliflozin (Jardiance), and 26% were on canagliflozin (Invokana).

Patients receiving an SGLT2 inhibitor at baseline were on average substantially younger than the patients not on this drug class (59 years vs. 69 years); they had a substantially higher prevalence of diabetes (78% vs. 25%), and ischemic cardiomyopathy (63% vs. 39%). Patients on an SGLT2 inhibitor at baseline also had more modestly higher prevalence rates of prior heart failure (38% vs. 31%), and hypertension (69% vs. 63%). Prevalence of a history of atrial fibrillation (AFib) was nearly the same in both groups: 31% in patients on an SGLT2 inhibitor and 35% in those not on these drugs.

The study’s primary endpoint was the total number of arrhythmia events during follow-up of 24,442 patient-years, during which patients exhibited 19,633 atrial arrhythmia events and 3,231 ventricular arrhythmia events.


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