Interpreting Absolute and Relative Risk Reduction in the Context of Recent Cardiovascular Outcome Trials in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes

David D. Berg, Ahmed A. Kolkailah, Ashish Sarraju, Anne Marie Kerchberger, Mahmoud Eljalby, Darren K. McGuire

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Purpose of Review: The cardiovascular benefits of sodium-glucose cotransporter-2 inhibitors (SGLT2i) and glucagon-like peptide 1 receptor agonists (GLP-1 RA) have increased the focus of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) care on comprehensive cardiovascular risk reduction. Herein, we review the results of the cardiovascular outcomes trials of SGLT2i and GLP-1 RA, discuss the concepts of relative vs. absolute risk reduction in the context of these trials, and highlight the importance of individualized risk assessment when applying trial results to clinical practice. Recent Findings: To enable personalized treatment approaches, multiple clinical risk scores have been developed to assess risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) outcomes and hospitalization for heart failure (HHF) in patients with T2DM. In addition, circulating biomarkers of myocardial injury (cardiac troponin) and hemodynamic stress (natriuretic peptides) have been shown to further refine risk prediction of these clinically important cardiovascular complications. Summary: When making decisions about whether to initiate SGLT2i and GLP-1 RA, clinicians should consider the anticipated relative and absolute treatment benefits from these antihyperglycemic therapies. Clinicians can use available clinical and biomarker-based risk tools when counseling patients about their individual cardiovascular risk profiles and when estimating absolute treatment benefits from SGLT2i and GLP-1 RA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number45
JournalCurrent diabetes reports
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2021


  • Atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease
  • Cardiovascular risk
  • Glucagon-like peptide 1 receptor agonist
  • Heart failure
  • Sodium-glucose cotransporter-2 inhibitor
  • Type 2 diabetes mellitus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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