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'Water Pills' May Cut Heart Risks in Diabetes

Study: More Costly Drugs No Better Than Diuretics
By
WebMD Health News

June 27, 2005 -- Water pills may work as well as other commonly used high blood pressure pills to protect the hearts of people with type 2 diabetes.

The researchers say they found "no evidence" that newer, more costly high blood pressure medications were better at preventing heart disease deaths or heart attacks than water pills, also called diuretics.

The findings were complex and "must be interpreted with caution," they write in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

They say the type of diuretics they studied "should be strongly considered" as initial drug therapy for patients with high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes or prediabetes.

About High Blood Pressure

Nearly one in three U.S. adults has high blood pressure. But almost a third of them don't know it, says the American Heart Association (AHA). High blood pressure affects nearly 50 million people in the U.S. and approximately 1 billion worldwide, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI).

Uncontrolled high blood pressure can be very dangerous. It can raise the risk of heart attack, stroke, heart failure, or kidney failure, says the AHA.

The relationship between blood pressure and heart disease risk is a continuous and consistent one, says the NHLBI. The higher the blood pressure, the greater the risk of heart attack, heart failure, stroke, and kidney disease. People with diabetes and high blood pressure have approximately twice the risk of complications compared with people who have high blood pressure alone.

Medications can help curb high blood pressure and reduce the risk of complications from the disease. A healthy lifestyle -- including exercise and good nutrition -- can also make a difference.

High Blood Pressure and Diabetes

"Almost three out of every four persons with type 2 diabetes has [high blood pressure]," says Paul Whelton, MD, MSc, in a news release.

That puts those people at "substantial risk" for heart disease, he says.

Whelton worked on the diuretic study. He is Tulane University's senior vice president for health sciences.

Study's Structure

Whelton's study included more than 31,500 adults aged 55 and older.

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