Impact of high glucose levels and glucose lowering on risk of ischaemic stroke: a Mendelian randomisation study and meta-analysis

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Aims/hypothesis: It is unclear whether glucose per se has a causal impact on risk of stroke and whether glucose-lowering drugs reduce this risk. This is important for the choice of treatment for individuals at risk. We tested the hypotheses that high plasma glucose has a causal impact on increased risk of ischaemic stroke, and that glucose-lowering drugs reduce this risk. Methods: Using a Mendelian randomisation design, we examined 118,838 individuals from two Copenhagen cohorts, the Copenhagen General Population Study and the Copenhagen City Heart Study, and 440,328 individuals from the MEGASTROKE study. Effects of eight glucose-lowering drugs on risk of stroke were summarised by meta-analyses. Results: In genetic, causal analyses, a 1 mmol/l higher plasma glucose had a risk ratio of 1.48 (95% CI 1.04, 2.11) for ischaemic stroke in the Copenhagen studies. The corresponding risk ratio from the MEGASTROKE study combined with the Copenhagen studies was 1.74 (1.31, 2.18). In meta-analyses of glucose-lowering drugs, the risk ratio for stroke was 0.85 (0.77, 0.94) for glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists and 0.82 (0.69, 0.98) for thiazolidinediones, while sulfonylureas, dipeptidyl peptidase-4 inhibitors, sodium–glucose cotransporter 2 inhibitors, α-glucosidase inhibitors, meglitinides and metformin individually lacked statistical evidence of an effect on stroke risk. Conclusions/interpretation: Genetically high plasma glucose has a causal impact on increased risk of ischaemic stroke. Treatment with glucose-lowering glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists and thiazolidinediones reduces this risk. These results may guide clinicians in the treatment of individuals at high risk of ischaemic stroke. Graphical abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.]

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1492–1503
Publication statusPublished - 2021

    Research areas

  • Anti-diabetes drugs, Diabetes mellitus, Glucose, Glucose lowering, Ischaemic cerebrovascular disease, Ischaemic stroke, Meta-analysis

ID: 259621988