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Feb 13, 2015

Blood Pressure Meds Life-Saving for Patients with Diabetes

Reducing blood pressure by 10 mmHg lowers risk for heart disease.

Despite controversy around strict blood pressure guidelines for diabetic patients, recent findings confirm the health benefits associated with blood pressure lowering treatment in patients with type 2 diabetes.

High blood pressure is at least twice as common among individuals with type 2 diabetes compared to those without it, and treatment to reduce blood pressure has been shown to have significant health benefits for diabetic patients. But the question remains: When should diabetic patients take blood pressure lowering meds, and what should their ideal blood pressure goal be? In the past, guidelines recommended a blood pressure target lower than 130/80 mmHg for patients with diabetes, but results of a trial published in 2010 reported little benefit of treating blood pressure beyond 140/90 mmHg.

In search of answers, researchers reviewed 40 clinical trials that involved blood pressure treatment for patients with type 2 diabetes, the results of which were recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. These trials encompassed more than 100,000 individuals with diabetes who were treated for high blood pressure. After a thorough analysis, researchers found that every 10 mmHg reduction in systolic blood pressure significantly reduced risk of heart disease, heart events and even death. Contrary to past findings, systolic blood pressure reduction below 130 mmHg helps further reduce risk of stroke and other outcomes in patients with diabetes compared to systolic blood pressure around 140 mmHg.

These findings support current guidelines that recommend blood pressure lowering therapy for patients with 2 diabetes with a systolic blood pressure of 140 mmHg or higher. In fact, it’s possible that these targets may even be too conservative for certain patients, as some patients with type 2 diabetes could benefit from more strict blood pressure management. However, experts argue that further research is needed to better understand which patients benefit the most from more aggressive blood pressure treatment.

Questions for You to Consider

  • What is hypertension?
  • Hypertension, often referred to as high blood pressure, occurs when the force of blood against the artery walls is too high. High blood pressure is often referred to as the “silent killer,” because it often causes no symptoms and if left uncontrolled, increases risk for heart attack and stroke.
  • What is the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes?

  • Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body does not produce any insulin—a hormone that converts sugar into energy. This type of diabetes is often diagnosed in children and young adults and cannot be prevented. Type 2 diabetes, however, occurs when the body resists insulin or does not produce enough insulin, and can be prevented in some patients.

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Featured Video

Hypertension is another way to say "high blood pressure." A patient has hypertension if their readings are above 140 over 90. With medication, the right diet, and a few lifestyle changes, however, hypertension can be managed.

Know Your Numbers

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