May 01, 2020

Diabetes and risk of uncontrolled blood pressure

If you have diabetes, your priority is probably on the important steps you need to take to control it. But don't let other, related health issues fall by the wayside. A new study suggests that waiting too long to treat one related condition — high blood pressure (hypertension) — can increase your chance of having a heart attack or stroke.

Researchers followed about 44,000 people with an average age of 62 who were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Some of these people started taking medication to control hypertension when their systolic blood pressure — the top number in a blood pressure reading — was between 130 and 139, the first stage of hypertension. Others started taking medication when their systolic blood pressure was 140 or above, the second, more advanced stage of the disease.

After an average follow-up of nine years, researchers found that those who started medication at the first stage of hypertension had a 10% lower risk of dying of heart attack or stroke than did those who started taking it at a later stage. That decreased risk remained even when people who started with more advanced hypertension had good success at lowering blood pressure.

Mayo Clinic doctors say that the study reinforces the importance of treating all heart disease risk factors promptly. Hypertension is a particularly high priority in those with diabetes, as having both doubles your risk of heart disease. If you have diabetes, talk to your doctor about your blood pressure and starting hypertension treatment promptly if...