By David L. Rosenbloom
There is an old adage that goes: "If something is good, than a whole lot more of it is better." An article in today's New York Times once again proves the adage false (Diabetes Heart Treatments May Cause Harm By Gina Kolata, March 14, 2010).
Aggressive treatment strategies by doctors attempting to help people with Type 2 diabetes don't necessarily work. In fact they can endanger them further. Studies, released yesterday at the American College of Cardiology meeting and being published online by the New England Journal of Medicine, indicate that taking additional drugs to lower blood pressure below 130 systolic actually raised the risk of stroke, heart attacks and death by 50%. Patients taking an average of 3.4 BP drugs were likely to suffer severe side effects like high potassium and dangerously lower BP when compared to those taking an average of 2 BP drugs.
This brings into question national blood pressure guidelines which recommend a systolic pressure of 130 or lower. The studies found that those with lower BP were worse off than people whose BP was in the 130-140 range.
People with diabetes also tend to have low levels of good cholesterol (HDLs) and high levels of triglycerides, giving them a higher risk of heart disease. The studies found that taking a class of drugs called fibrates, in addition to statins to improve cholesterol levels, did not help.
High BP appears to be the cause of my kidney loss in 2002. I am not diabetic. Yet in my experience in order to control my BP more effectively I needed fewer rather than more BP medications. In over a year of experimenting with many BP drugs (some of which had very adverse side effects), my former nephrologist could not control my BP levels. I finally took matters into my own hands and saw a blood pressure specialist who correctly prescribed two medications and proper doses to quickly bring my BP into the 140-145 range. Since my kidney transplant in 2008, I have been on low doses of 2 BP drugs and my BP at rest averages 135-125 systolic / 75-65 diastolic.
As I have found, drugs by themselves are only part of the answer. Good diet, regular exercise and a positive mental attitude that helps reduce stress, are major components toward better health.