Change EU guidelines for diabetes patients, study suggests

Fri, 13 Feb 2015
Current EU guidelines relating to blood pressure for diabetes patients could increase the risk of stroke and retinopathy, according to new research.

The study, a comprehensive review by researchers from The George Institute for Global Health, affiliated with the Oxford Martin School at Oxford University, oppose recent changes to blood pressure recommendations for people with diabetes.

The majority of blood pressure guidelines for people with diabetes suggest that blood pressure levels are kept below 130/80mmHg, while people without diabetes should keep their blood pressure levels below 140/90mmHg.

A recent story addressed a similar issue, with the same researchers proposing therapeutic solutions for type 2 diabetes patients with high blood pressure. Now, in a new development, the researchers are addressing problems with blood pressure guidelines for people with diabetes.

High blood pressure increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, and stroke. It poses a particular risk for people with diabetes, therefore, who are already at a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attack, stroke, and atherosclerosis. These conditions are made more likely as a result of high blood glucose levels causing damage over time.

But the targets have recently been relaxed in the US and the UK, which, according to the study, is dangerous, "Our review shows that people with diabetes who reached a systolic blood pressure below 130mmHg had about a 25 per cent low stroke risk compared with those with higher blood pressure levels.

"Our analyses indicate that lower blood pressure reduces risk of diabetic eye disease and early kidney disease too," said Professor Kazem Rahimi of The George Institute United Kingdom and the University of Oxford, and author of the study.

"Unfortunately, recent US and EU changes to the guidelines will negatively impact the treatment options for people with diabetes in the UK. We urgently call for these recent changes to guidelines to be modified and for all guidelines around the world to consistently reflect the evidence, so that patients with diabetes can receive the best possible treatment."

2.5 million people in the UK have either type 1 or type 2 diabetes, and the disease is the leading cause of blindness and kidney disease.

Professor Neil Poulter, a blood pressure and diabetes expect from Imperial College London, supports the study, although he was not involved in it, "I expect this study to influence guidelines for the treatment of people with diabetes, and for this to translate to appreciable effects on the health of people with diabetes.

"I have been increasingly concerned about the trend to advocate higher blood pressure targets as reflected by recent changes to guidelines in Europe and the US; this study provides the evidence needed to reconsider this."
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