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.