By Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.A.C.N., C.N.S., C.B.T.
If you have a close relative (a parent, child, or sibling) with type 2 diabetes and you have an impaired glucose level – blood sugar above normal, but lower than a diabetic level − your risk of developing high blood pressure may be significantly increased.
That’s the conclusion of a 2015 study from endocrine researchers at Iran’s Isfahan University of Medical Sciences.
The researchers set out to test the hypothesis that blood sugar status in close relatives of patients with diabetes is associated with developing high blood pressure. In the study, they checked the blood sugar levels of more than one thousand individuals without diabetes and/or high blood pressure, individuals who were “first-degree relatives” of patients with diabetes.
The researchers followed these relatives, ages 30 to 70, for about 7 years and found that those with impaired glucose at the start of the study, as determined by a standard glucose tolerance test, were 54 percent more likely to later develop high blood pressure than those with a normal level.
“High plasma glucose levels were consistently associated with hypertension,” the study concluded.
My Viewpoint: Impaired glucose tolerance, as it is called, is a risk factor for developing cardiovascular disease and considered a prediabetic state. In my cardiology practice I repeatedly saw a connection between diabetes and hypertension, and associations involving family history. I wasn’t aware, however, of this connection between impaired glucose tolerance and hypertension. This study identifies a strong possibility of developing high blood pressure (hypertension) if a very close relative has diabetes and your blood sugar level is above normal.
What This Means to You: You need to see a doctor and get your blood sugar checked out. It’s easy enough. You fast overnight, then drink a glucose (sugar) containing solution, and two hours later your doctor does a blood draw. A fasting level above 110 mg/dl (or a hemoglobin A1c test result greater than 6%) suggests impaired glucose tolerance and more testing may be necessary, such as a standard glucose tolerance test.
My Recommendation: You can prevent the development of both diabetes and hypertension with lifestyle remedies that include regular physical activity, eating an anti-inflammatory diet, and curbing your stress. Diabetes and hypertension are highly preventable conditions, but only you can prevent them. Your doctor can only treat you once you have them, and, as I learned very early in my medical practice, prevention is worth a ton of cure.
- Janghorbani M, Bonnet F, Amini M. Glucose and the risk of hypertension in first-degree relatives of patients with type 2 diabetes. Hypertension Research. 2015;38: 349–354.
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