Advertisement

What drugs treat high blood pressure in people with diabetes?

There are many drugs to treat high blood pressure; we'll focus on two main classes: the ACE inhibitors and ARB medications, both of which have special benefits for people with diabetes. The "A" in both groups of drugs stands for angiotensin. Angiotensin is a hormone that raises blood pressure, especially in the small vessels in the kidney where blood is filtered during the first stage of urine production. ACE stands for angiotensin converting enzyme, and ACE inhibitors (often written either as "ACEs" or "ACEIs," though people usually say "aces") prevent the production of angiotensin. ARB stands for angiotensin receptor blocker (people usually say "arbs"), and these medicines block the action of angiotensin.

ACEs and ARBs lower blood pressure and specifically help to reduce pressure within the kidneys, so they have a special benefit in preventing kidney disease in diabetes. The ACEs are an older class of drugs and most are available as generics, so they are relatively inexpensive. By far the most common side effect of these drugs is a dry cough that just doesn't go away. The ADVANCE (Action in Diabetes and Vascular Disease) trial found that treatment with an ACE inhibitor in combination with a diuretic reduced the risk of heart disease in those with diabetes, even if they did not have hypertension.

The ARBs are newer, and none is available as a generic at present; consequently, they are more expensive. The patent on Cozaar, the first ARB available in the United States, is due to expire in 2010, so generic versions of these medications will be available within the next few years. Neither ACEs nor ARBs can be used during pregnancy because they may harm the growth and development of the fetus. Otherwise, a drug from one of these classes should usually be the first line medication for high blood pressure in someone with diabetes because of the special benefit to the kidneys.

The Best Life Guide to Managing Diabetes and Pre-Diabetes

More About this Book

The Best Life Guide to Managing Diabetes and Pre-Diabetes

Bob Greene has helped millions of Americans become fit and healthy with his life-changing Best Life plan. Now, for the first time, Oprah's trusted expert on diet and fitness teams up with a leading...

Continue Learning about High Blood Pressure Treatment

Treat Your High Blood Pressure, Boost Your Heart
Treat Your High Blood Pressure, Boost Your Heart
When confronting a health problem, sometimes medications or other treatment strategies work wonders—and sometimes the results are less dramatic. One t...
Read More
How can I lower my blood pressure?
Emilia KlappEmilia Klapp
You need to tackle this problem on several fronts: Keep active physically. Limit sodium (salt)...
More Answers
Are there alternative treatments for primary high blood pressure?
Brian TanzerBrian Tanzer
There are complementary therapies for elevated blood pressure. Not all people with high blood pressu...
More Answers
What Can I Eat to Lower My Blood Pressure?
What Can I Eat to Lower My Blood Pressure?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.