• olmesartan;
  • ARBs;
  • ACE inhibitors;
  • sudden cardiac death;
  • mortality;
  • safety;
  • pharmacoepidemiology



Clinical trials of olmesartan for prevention of progression of renal disease in patients with diabetes showed renal protection but an unexpected imbalance in cardiac deaths. The US Food and Drug Administration requested from the manufacturer a cohort study of olmesartan, other angiotensin-receptor blockers (ARBs), and angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors in a large population.


A retrospective cohort study was conducted with the cooperation of a US health insurer. Subject entry and follow-up ran from 2002 through 2009. In propensity-matched cohorts, the primary analysis considered continuous current users. Endpoints were sudden cardiac death (SCD) and all-cause mortality, identified through the US National Death Index, supplemented by insurance and hospital discharge data. Statistical estimation was based on proportional hazards analyses with 95% confidence intervals. Power calculations had shown that 25 000 olmesartan initiators would be required to detect relative risks (RRs) of SCD of twofold or greater.


A total of 57 123 initiators of olmesartan were matched 1:2 to initiators of other ARBs and 41 801 to initiators of ACE inhibitors. Average follow-up time ranged from 8 to 9 months. Olmesartan initiators and comparators experienced similar patterns of both outcomes, with RRs ≤1.0 and upper confidence bounds ≤1.6. Among persons with prior use of hypoglycemic agents, in comparison with other ARBs, the RR of SCD for olmesartan users was 0.8, with an upper confidence bound of 2.2.


The results of this well-powered study do not raise concerns for the risk of SCD or death from all causes among olmesartan users in comparison with users of other ARBs or ACE inhibitors. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.