Dear Dr. Roach: My 72-year-old aunt has hypertension and Type 2 diabetes. She is not on any medications yet. If she took medication to correct her hypertension only, would her blood sugar levels normalize? Or, if she took medication to correct Type 2 diabetes only, would her hypertension be eliminated?
I need to know what advice to give her as she wants to take the least amount of medications due to possible bad side effects.
Dear J.I.: High blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes often go together, to the point where we recommend people with high blood pressure get tested for diabetes, and every person with diabetes gets his or her blood pressure checked every visit.
However, the treatments are separate, and it is common that people need multiple medications. But not everyone with either of these conditions needs treatment with medication. In some people, salt restriction, stress reduction, regular exercise and a few pounds of weight loss can bring the blood pressure down to the point where medicine is no longer necessary. The same good diet, exercise and weight loss usually bring down the blood sugar as well, sometimes enough that no medications are required.
However, both diabetes and high blood pressure have bad effects on blood vessels, especially the ones that go to the heart and brain, predisposing people with either condition to heart attack and stroke. Having both these conditions further increases risk.
The good news is that medications are much better than even a few years ago, and most people can find treatments without bad side effects.
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