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Robustness of outcomes in trials evaluating sodium–glucose co‐transporter 2 inhibitors for heart failure



Recent trials have evaluated sodium-glucose co-transporter 2 inhibitors in patients with heart failure (HF). We sought to assess the robustness of findings from these trials using the fragility index (FI).

Methods and results

Fragility index is defined as the minimum number of patients that must be moved from the 'non-event' to the 'event' group to turn a statistically significant result to non-significant. In addition to FI, fragility quotient [(FQ); FI divided by the sample size] was calculated to assess the proportion of events that must be moved to change the significance. For statistically non-significant outcomes, reverse fragility index (RFI) and reverse fragility quotient (RFQ) were calculated. Robustness of findings after pooling data from all three trials was also assessed. A robust reduction in first HF hospitalization or cardiovascular mortality was seen with dapagliflozin (FI = 62 and FQ = 0.013), empagliflozin (FI = 50 and FQ = 0.013), and sotagliflozin (FI = 60 and FQ = 0.049). Dapagliflozin nominally improved all-cause and cardiovascular mortality, with modest FI (n = 8 and 5) and FQ (0.002 and 0.001). Empagliflozin and sotagliflozin did not demonstrate statistically significant reductions in all-cause mortality, with modest RFI (empagliflozin: RFI = 26 and RFQ = 0.007; sotagliflozin: RFI = 6 and RFQ = 0.005). A similar trend was seen with cardiovascular mortality (empagliflozin: RFI = 24 and RFQ = 0.006; sotagliflozin: RFI = 7 and RFQ = 0.006). Upon meta-analysis, the result for first HF hospitalization or cardiovascular mortality was robust (FI = 95 and FQ = 0.010). The reductions in all-cause (FI = 12 and FQ = 0.001) and cardiovascular mortality (FI = 9 and FQ = 0.001), while statistically significant, were fragile.


Improvement in the composite outcome of first HF hospitalization or cardiovascular death was highly concordant and robust across sodium-glucose co-transporter 2 inhibitor trials. In contrast, secondary endpoints of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality were statistically fragile, underscoring the need to power trials for mortality to fully understand the benefit of therapies on fatal events.

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