Arterial hypertension in diabetes mellitus: from theory to clinical practice

Hippokratia 2008, 12(2):74-80

C. Sampanis, C. Zamboulis


Diabetes mellitus and arterial hypertension are two common diseases that often coexist. Patients with diabetes have much higher rate of hypertension than that in general population. The co-existence of these disorders appears to accelerate microvascular and macrovascular complications and greatly increases the cardiovascular risk, risk of stroke and end stage renal disease. Arterial hypertension is clearly related to nephropathy in subjects with type 1 diabetes. In patients with type 2 diabetes insulin resistance seems to play a pivotal role in the pathogenesis of hypertension. Several well designed randomized controlled trials have provided evidence that patients with diabetes will benefit from a more aggressive treatment of hypertension. This benefit is seen at blood pressure level < 130/80 mmHg. Mopreover, most diabetic patients with hypertension require combination therapy to achieve optimal blood pressure goals. Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, angiotensin-receptor blockers, diuretics, β-adrenoreceptor blockers and calcium- channel blockers are all effective antihypertensive agents in type 2 diabetes mellitus and no comparative trial showed the superiority of any particular class in either lowering blood pressure or reducing cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. On the basis of experimental arguments and clinical observations that have shown their apparent superiority in slowing diabetic nephropathy, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors or angiotensin-receptor blockers are preferred as the first choice alone or in combination with diuretics. Second choice should be long-acting calcium-channel blockers or cardioselective β blockers. Clinicians should be aware of the need for aggressive treatment of hypertension and spend more time in order to provide maximal benefit to the treatment of diabetes mellitus and hypertension