Intensive blood pressure (BP) therapy has been investigated as a way of helping people with diabetes avoid developing a cardiovascular health problem.
People with diabetes can be more prone to high blood pressure, which increases cardiovascular risks. This is why it is important to regularly attend clinic visits so high blood pressure symptoms are identified quickly.
The findings were taken from two previous studies carried out across 2005-2014. The researchers wanted to explore further the link between blood pressure and diabetes because historically there has been controversy over targets for people with diabetes.
The researchers, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, used data from the Action to Control Cardiovascular Risk in Diabetes-Blood Pressure (ACCORD BP) study.
In a US population, they compared intensive blood pressure treatment (aiming for systolic blood pressure below 120 mmHg) with standard treatment (aiming for systolic blood pressure below 140 mmHg).
Blood pressure therapy involves reducing blood pressure targets to lower levels. This can be done through adapting lifestyle or by introducing medication. Intensive therapy is more likely to rely on medication to achieve the lower blood pressure target.
Intensive therapy was linked with a reduced risk of cardiovascular events, such as stroke or heart attack. However, adjustments had to be made in the study because it lacked racial/ethnic diversity, and the participants tended to have higher cardiovascular risks than the general population.
It is also important to note that blood pressure medication has side effects, and these can increase some health risks. The research found that over five years, 34 people needed to be treated to prevent one instance of heart trouble, and one in 55 people treated had an adverse health problem as a result of the treatment.
The authors wrote: “These findings favour intensive BP treatment, but also highlight the lack of data support for BP treatment guidance in large segments of the US adult population with diabetes mellitus particularly racial/ethnic minorities and those with lower cardiovascular risk.”
The findings have been published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

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