Thiazolidinediones, peripheral oedema and congestive heart failure: What is the evidence?

Chetan Patel, Kathleen L. Wyne, Darren K McGuire

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


Cardiovascular disease is the most common complication of type 2 diabetes mellitus (type 2 DM), accounting for approximately 80% of deaths. While atherosclerotic vascular disease accounts for much of the cardiovascular morbidity and mortality among diabetic patients, congestive heart failure (CHF) is another key complication associated with diabetes, with an incidence three to five times greater in diabetic patients than in those without diabetes. One of the most promising developments in the treatment of type 2 DM has been the introduction of the thiazolidinedione (TZD) class of drugs, which appear to have pleiotropic effects beyond glycaemic control. Enthusiasm has been tempered, however, by concerns for safety in patients with CHF, given reports of worsening heart failure symptoms and peripheral oedema. With the growing epidemic of type 2 DM and the increasing use of TZDs, such concern has important therapeutic implications for a population of patients with a high prevalence of often subclinical systolic and diastolic dysfunction. This review provides an overview of the currently available data regarding the effects of TZDs on fluid retention and cardiac function. Particular emphasis is placed on the mechanisms of development of peripheral oedema and its significance in patients with impaired left ventricular function. TZDs are well known to cause an expansion in plasma volume; there has also been concern that TZDs may have direct toxic effects on the myocardium, leading to impaired cardiac function. Studies to date do not support this hypothesis and in fact there is growing evidence from animal models and human trials that treatment with TZDs actually improves cardiac function. There are also preclinical data to suggest TZDs may protect the myocardium in the setting of ischaemic insult or the toxic effects of myocardial lipid deposition. Ongoing clinical trials examining the use of these agents in patients at risk for heart failure will probably provide further insight into the aggregate cardiovascular effects of this promising class of medications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)61-66
Number of pages6
JournalDiabetes and Vascular Disease Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2005


  • Congestive heart failure
  • Peripheral oedema
  • Thiazolidinediones
  • Type 2 diabetes mellitus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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