• metabolic syndrome;
  • insulin resistance;
  • diabetes mellitus;
  • cardiovascular outcomes;
  • peroxisome- proliferator-activated receptor gamma agonists;
  • thiazolidinediones


This article is designed for the general cardiologist, endocrinologist, and internist caring for patients with diabetes and coronary artery disease. Despite the burden of coronary disease in diabetics, little is known about the impact of commonly used oral hypoglycemic agents on cardiovascular outcomes. As the untoward effects of insulin resistance (IR) are increasingly recognized, there is interest in targeting this defect. Insulin resistance contributes to dyslipidemia, hypertension, inflammation, hypercoagulability, and endothelial dysfunction. The aggregate impact of this process is progression of systemic atherosclerosis and an increased risk of adverse cardiovascular outcomes. As such, much attention has been paid to the peroxisome-proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARg) agonists rosiglitazone and pioglitazone (thiazolidinediones [TZDs]). Many studies have demonstrated a beneficial effect on the atherosclerotic process; specifically, these agents have been shown to reduce markers of inflammation, retard progression of carotid intimal thickness, prevent restenosis after coronary stenting, and prevent cardiovascular death and myocardial infarction in 1 large trial. Such benefits come at the risk of fluid retention and heart failure (HF) exacerbation, and the net effect on plasma lipids is still poorly understood. Thus, the aggregate risk-benefit ratio is poorly defined. A recent meta-analysis has raised significant concerns regarding the overall cardiovascular safety of 1 particular PPARg agonist (rosiglitazone), prompting international debate and regulatory changes. This review scrutinizes the clinical evidence regarding the cardiovascular risks and benefits of PPARg agonists. Future studies of PPARg agonists, and other emerging drugs that treat IR and diabetes, must be designed to look at cardiovascular outcomes. Copyright © 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.