Diabetes Medication Improves Acute Heart Failure Hospitalization Outcomes

A medication for type 2 diabetes, empagliflozin, improves outcomes in adults hospitalized with acute heart failure, according to research recently presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2021.

After the recent establishment of this SGLT2 inhibitor as a treatment for chronic heart failure, the researchers conducted a double-blind, randomized controlled study to determine whether empagliflozin could be an effective treatment for hospitalized adults with acute heart failure as well.

Included were 530 adults who were hospitalized for acute heart failure but whose condition stabilized. Of the total participants, 66% were men. The participants were randomly assigned a once-daily 90-day supply of empagliflozin, 10 mg or placebo. The primary outcomes were measured by the number of deaths, adverse events, time to the first heart failure event, or a Kansas City Cardiomyopathy Questionnaire score that had improved by at least 5 points.

When compared with patients taking placebo, adults who were taking empagliflozin were 36% more likely to experience a clinical benefit, including:

  • Reduced all-cause mortality (4.2% among the empagliflozin group vs 8.3% among the placebo group)
  • Fewer heart failure events (10.6% vs 14.7%)
  • Fewer serious adverse events (32.3% vs 43.6%)
  • Improved heart failure symptoms

These improvements were consistent across all types of heart failure regardless of whether the patient had comorbid type 2 diabetes.

“Even though there are several medicines available to improve clinical outcomes in patients with chronic heart failure, very few medicines have proven to benefit patients with new, acute onset of heart failure needing hospitalization,” said study author Adriaan Voors, MD, PhD. “Our findings indicate that empagliflozin may help to improve outcomes for these patients without an increase in serious adverse effects.”


—Leigh Precopio



Adults with acute heart failure benefit when treated with a type 2 diabetes medication. News release. American Heart Association; November 14, 2021. Accessed November 17, 2021.