Why is it More Important to Control Your BP and Cholesterol?

When your wellness is affected by diabetes, you often focus on your blood sugar levels to control your condition. However, a new study from US researchers has shown that getting to grips with your blood pressure and cholesterol is more important than HbA1c for guarding your wellbeing against heart disease.

While the researchers say that you shouldn’t neglect your HbA1c checks, they also noted that their findings indicate that BP and lipid targets should be the priority for you and your doctor if you are attempting to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease in diabetes care. In the study, it was found that patients with healthy BP and cholesterol had a lower risk of hospitalisation for stroke or MI. Patients who achieved HbA1c targets but missed those for BP and cholesterol, on the other hand, had not reduced these risks at all.

There is a large body of research which connects good control of your HbA1c to a lower risk of heart disease. In spite of this, however, the relative importance of this and other risk factors had remained unclear. According to study lead author Greg Nichols PhD of the Kaiser Permanente Centre for Health Research in Portland, Oregon, ‘People with diabetes are often focused on controlling their blood sugar, but our study found that controlling BP and cholesterol is even more important in preventing heart disease.’

The records of 26,636 adults with diabetes between 2002 and 2010 were analysed for the study. During this time, about 7% of patients were hospitalised with a cardiovascular event. The researchers determined whether or not the patients achieved three clinical targets:

  1. BP less than 130/80mmHg
  2. LDL cholesterol under 100mg/dL
  3. HbA1c of less than 53mmol/mol

The results of the study revealed that only one in eight patients (13%) met target levels for all three measures. Compared to those who met none of the targets, these patients were 2.5 times less likely to be hospitalised with MI or stroke. While patients with all three risk factors well controlled faced the lowest risk, those who met BP and cholesterol targets still saw their risk fall, and yet a similar reduction was not seen in those who had only well-controlled blood sugar levels. This means that it’s important to pay attention to all your risk factors for heart disease –not just blood sugar.

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