Part 2: Controlling BP in Diabetes Patients

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Previously, I introduced the topic of self-care for patients with diabetes to prevent complications. Now let’s explore how to help reduce risk for cardiovascular conditions in these patients, starting with blood pressure control.


Mr. W’s vitals include a heart rate of 82; BP, 150/86 mm Hg; and O2 saturation, 98%. He is afebrile. You consider how to best manage glucose control and reduce the risk for cardiovascular conditions.

Reducing the Risk for Cardiovascular Conditions

The ADA recommends at least annual systematic assessment of cardiovascular risk factors, including weight, hypertension, dyslipidemia, chronic kidney disease (CKD), and presence of albuminuria.2 Managing these conditions to the standards supported by currently available evidence should reduce the risk for ASCVD in patients such as Mr. W. Two newer medication classes—glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists and sodium-glucose cotransporter-2 inhibitors—offer potential benefit in reducing cardiovascular risk.15,16 Consider these medications for patients with diabetes or known ASCVD or for those who are at high risk for ASCVD and/or CKD.2,7

Furthermore, the ADA recommends using a risk calculator, such as the ASCVD Risk Estimator Plus created by the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association (see https://tools.acc.org/ASCVD-Risk-Estimator-Plus), to stratify the 10-year risk for a first ASCVD event.2 This calculator can produce results that can help guide an individualized risk-reduction treatment plan for each patient. Also, consider low-dose aspirin for primary prevention in those at high risk for ASCVD (10-year risk > 10%) and for secondary prevention of ASCVD in those who have already had a cardiovascular event.2,7

Setting and Meeting BP Goals

Hypertension is common in patients with diabetes, with a recent study suggesting that ≥ 67% of these patients have elevated BP.17 Significant evidence demonstrates that BP control reduces morbidity and mortality in diabetes.18 Although the importance of BP control in this setting is widely known, recent studies have demonstrated that only 30% to 42% of affected patients meet their BP goals.19,20

How to make a BP goal. Guideline recommendations for setting specific BP goals have varied slightly over the past several years and are influenced by known comorbidities such as ASCVD and CKD. Patients should be part of the decision-making process to individualize goals based on their circumstances and safety. A BP goal of < 130/80 mm Hg is generally acceptable for patients who are known to have ASCVD or who are at high risk (≥ 15% risk) for ASCVD in the next 10 years.7 A goal of < 140/90 mm Hg is considered appropriate in those with a lower risk for ASCVD.7,8,21,22

Medications. Selecting an appropriate antihypertensive medication relies on multiple factors. Evidence supports the use of angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and angiotensin II receptor blockers for diabetes, and both the AACE and ADA recommend these medications as an initial treatment option.2,7 They help reduce the progression of kidney disease in patients with albuminuria and may improve cardiovascular outcomes.23-27 When additional agents are needed to meet BP goals, the ADA recommends thiazide-like diuretics (chlorthalidone and indapamide) or calcium channel blockers (dihydropyridine).2 Although some hyperglycemic adverse effects have been observed with use of thiazide-like diuretics, these might be outweighed by the benefit of BP control.24

Continue to: Monitor the patient's BP


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