young caregiver showing something to senior woman, 90 years old, on digital tablet

A new study documented risk factors for being hospitalized with a UTI among new sodium-glucose cotransporter-2 inhibitor (SGLT2i) users who lived in nursing homes. Those who were female, had a history of urinary tract infections (UTIs) and those who used catheters, who were at risk, data showed in the study published Saturday in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. 

Women have shorter urethra compared to males, which increases the likelihood for bacteria to enter the bladder and cause infections. A lack of estrogen as women age also can raise the risk for UTIs, the authors noted.

SGLT2is block filtered glucose from being reabsorbed in order to lower blood glucose. The mechanism, however, causes glucose to rise in the urinary tract and raises the chances of getting a UTI. Older people, especially with reduced mobility such as those in nursing homes, have a higher chance for UTIs as well. 

Researchers looked at people ages 66 and older who were in fee-for-service Medicare Parts A, B and D and with type 2 diabetes who received care in nursing homes between 2013 and 2018. New SGLT2i use was defined as starting a SGLT2i and not being on for six months prior. The team followed up on an individuals’ data from the day a person started the drug until they were hospitalized with a UTI, stopped the medication, disenrolled from Medicare, died, or until a year had passed.

The average age of 1,701 new SGLT2i users was 77.8 years old. The most common SGLT2i used was canagliflozin. 

During a mean follow-up of 6.1 months, 10.3% of new SGLT2i users were hospitalized with a UTI, 12.7% died and 402% went off the medication. Cumulatively, the incidence of having a hospitalized UTI at two months was 4.3%, at four months was 7.1%, at six months was 9.5%, and at 12 months was 15%, respectively.