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Some Blood Pressure Drugs Increase Diabetes Risk

Ninety-one percent of North Americans will have high blood pressure, which increases risk for arteriosclerosis, heart attacks and strokes. Taking medication to lower high blood pressure can help to prevent these conditions. However, some commonly used blood pressure medications increase risk for diabetes which, in turn, increases risk for all three of the other common causes of premature death: heart attacks, strokes and cancer.

Statins Also Increase Diabetes Risk
The NAVIGATOR study of 6000 hypertensive patients followed for five years showed that diuretics and statins are associated with increased risk for developing diabetes, while beta blockers and calcium channel blockers are not (British Medical Journal, December 9, 2013;347:f6745). Diuretics, statins and beta blockers can raise blood sugar while calcium channel blockers do not. Most studies show that beta blockers can increase risk for diabetes while angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEIs) and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) decrease risk (Curr Med Res Opin, 2007 Jun;23(6):1239-44; Drugs, 2004;64(22):2537-65).

If you are taking drugs to lower your blood pressure, you can find out what class of drug you are taking at:
Drugs Commonly Used to Treat Hypertension or
AHA Types of Blood Pressure Medications

My Recommendations for Lowering Blood Pressure
If your doctor is treating you with beta blockers, diuretics, or statins, you should alter your lifestyle as if you are already diabetic. All of these lifestyle changes can lower high blood pressure, help to prevent diabetes, heart attacks and strokes and often make it possible for you to get off of the medications that you are taking. Whether or not you are currently taking drugs to lower blood pressure, I believe that everyone should follow these guidelines:
• Work up to more than an hour a day of regular exercise
• Lose weight if overweight
• Avoid red meat and fried foods
• Avoid sugared drinks and sugar-added foods unless you are exercising intensely for more than an hour
• Eat large amounts of fruits and vegetables
• Keep blood levels of hydroxy-vitamin D above 75 nmol/L
• Avoid smoking and second-hand smoke
• Limit or avoid alcoholic beverages
• Grow muscle and reduce body fat

January 12th, 2014
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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