Health Team

Blood Pressure, Cholesterol Are Key in Keeping Diabetics Healthy

A new study suggests that lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels may help diabetic patients avoid strokes and heart attacks.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Diabetic patients face an increased risk of other health problems like heart attack and stroke, but a new study shows that aggressively lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels may help these patients.

For type 2 diabetes patients, national recommended guidelines set the standard for controlling blood pressure and cholesterol levels to prevent heart disease.

“We know now that it's important to control risk factors for heart disease in people with diabetes, yet we don't know how far to aim,” said Barbara Howard, an epidemiologist with the MedStar Research Institute in Maryland.

She and her colleagues followed the treatment of 500 Native American men and women with type 2 diabetes for three years. Native Americans are a population with a high rate of diabetes.

Half were treated to meet the current standard, which is a systolic blood pressure of 130 or lower and LDL cholesterol of 100 or lower.

The rest aimed for a systolic of 115 or lower and LDL or 70 or lower. This group saw reduced plaque in the blood vessels of the neck, as compared with the standard group, whose neck vessels got slightly worse, Howard said.

Researchers also measured the size of the heart’s main pumping chamber and found it decreased in all patients. A more significant decrease was found in patients who reached the lower blood pressure and cholesterol targets, however.

If more people were treated longer, Howard said the result would be a difference in the numbers of heart attacks and strokes.

The study appears in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Based on each individual’s risk factors, patients should talk to their doctors about cholesterol and blood-pressure levels. Researchers say additional studies are needed to determine if changes in national guidelines for blood pressure and cholesterol levels for diabetics are necessary.




Allen Mask, M.D., Reporter
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