Patients with diabetes who follow a restrictive diet may also reduce the risk for high blood pressure. New research shows that if patients achieve and maintain substantial weight loss to manage their type 2 diabetes, they could also control their high blood pressure enough to stop their anti-hypertensive medication.
The Universities of Glasgow and Newcastle for the Diabetes UK-funded Diabetes Remission Clinical Trial (DIRECT) developed a weight management program that has proven to be effective at lowering blood pressure and reducing the need for high blood pressure medication.
The program involves an initial 12 weeks on a nutritionally complete formula diet, which should induce weight loss of over 15 kg if followed fully. The weight loss phase is followed by the support of eating wisely for maintenance and how to choose the right healthy foods.
The study published in the journal Diabetologia (the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes [EASD]), analyzed 143 people who started on the diet program. More than half of the participants (78 people) were on medication for high blood pressure at the start, and 44 people were on two or more drugs.
It was found that average blood pressure fell steadily as people lost weight. After the formula diet period finished, blood pressure remained lower on average. For those who were not previously treated for high blood pressure, the readings fell sharply from week one. Those who stopped taking medication saw their blood pressure fall, although slowly.
Approximately 28% of participants needed to reintroduce a blood pressure tablet during the formula period. However, it was also recorded that 28% of participants were able to remain off their medications for at least two years.
Prof Mike Lean, from the University of Glasgow, said, “We wanted to evaluate the safety and efficacy of withdrawing blood pressure medication when beginning our specially-designed weight-loss program for type 2 diabetes, and we are pleased with the results. Our study shows that, in addition to possible remission from type 2 diabetes, there are other significant health benefits, as weight loss is a very effective treatment for hypertension and its associated serious health risks.”
Researchers hope the potential to no longer need medications for blood pressure and diabetes could be a big incentive for people to change their eating habits. By following a simple diet, diseases such as hypertension and diabetes can be managed, and this should be a big reason for people to consume a healthy diet.