In a new study from the Universities of Glasgow and Newcastle, researchers found that if people achieve and maintain substantial weight loss to manage their type 2 diabetes, many can also effectively control their high blood pressure and stop or cut down on their anti-hypertensive medication.
They found a weight management program is effective at lowering blood pressure and reducing the need for anti-hypertensive medications, as well as bringing remission of type 2 diabetes.
In the study, the team looked at 143 people who started the diet program, with more than half (78 people) on tablets for high blood pressure at the start.
The program involves an initial 12 weeks on a nutritionally complete formula diet (low calorie soups and shakes) which will induce weight loss of over 15 kg (over 2 stones) if followed fully.
In the program, diabetes and blood pressure drugs were stopped at the start, and only re-started if blood sugar or blood pressure rose.
The weight loss phase is followed by support to choose foods and eat wisely for weight loss maintenance.
Maintaining the 15 kg weight loss allowed 8 out of 10 people to become free from type 2 diabetes, without the need for diabetes medications for at least 2 years.
The researchers also found that, overall, average blood pressure fell steadily as people lost weight. And blood pressure remained lower after the formula diet period finished, and then at 12 and at 24 months.
For those not previously treated for high blood pressure, blood pressures fell sharply from week one.
For those who had stopped their blood pressure tablets, blood pressure still fell, although more slowly. Just over a quarter (28%) needed to reintroduce a blood pressure tablet during the formula diet period.
However, researchers also found that the same proportion of participants (28%) were able to remain off their medications for at least two years.
The findings suggest in addition to possible remission from type 2 diabetes, there are other very important health benefits, as weight loss is a very effective treatment for hypertension and its associated serious health risks.
The team says that when substantial weight loss is achieved and maintained, patients can effectively manage both their blood pressure and type 2 diabetes without drugs.
If you care about blood pressure health, please read studies about a new surgery that can treat high blood pressure and findings of a life of low cholesterol and blood pressure cut heart disease risk by 80%.
For more information about high blood pressure prevention and treatment, please see recent studies about flu vaccination could strongly benefit people with high blood pressure and results showing that this common vegetable may help you lower blood pressure.
The study is published in Diabetologia. One author of the study is Prof Mike Lean.
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