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Hypertension Control Can Save a Diabetic's Sight

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  • THURSDAY, Nov. 11 (HealthDayNews) -- Close control of blood pressure helps reduce eye problems in people with type 2 diabetes, says a British study in the November issue of the Archives of Ophthalmology.

    The study included 1,148 people, average age 56, with high blood pressure who had type 2 diabetes for an average of 2.6 years at the beginning of the study. The average blood pressure of the study subjects was 160/94.

    The patients were divided into two groups. One group was a tight blood pressure control group with a target of 150/85, while the other group had less rigorous blood pressure controls, with a target of less than 180/105.

    After 4.5 years, 23.3 percent of those in the tight blood pressure control group had suffered five or more microaneurysms (tiny dilated areas in the walls of the blood vessels in the eyes), compared to 33.5 percent of those in the other group.

    People in the less strict blood pressure control group also had an elevated risk of blindness compared to those in the tight blood pressure control group.

    "High [blood pressure] is detrimental to each aspect of diabetic retinopathy and a tight [blood pressure] control policy reduces the risk of clinical complications from diabetic eye disease," the study authors wrote.

    In an accompanying editorial, Dr. Ronald Klein of the University of Wisconsin-Madison wrote: "These findings clearly demonstrate the importance of lowering blood pressure to reduce the progression of retinopathy, incidence of macular edema, and loss of vision in persons with relatively short duration of type 2 diabetes and moderate to severe hypertension."

    "Ophthalmologists should tell their diabetic patients about the benefits of blood pressure control in reducing loss of vision from diabetic retinopathy and emphasize the need for routine monitoring of blood pressure (including measurements at each eye examination)," Klein concluded.

    More information

    The U.S. National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse has advice on how to prevent diabetes-related eye problems.

    (SOURCE: JAMA/Archives, news release, Nov. 8, 2004)

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