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Benefits of tight blood pressure control in diabetic patients with hypertension: importance of early and sustained implementation of effective treatment strategies.

Diabetes Care. 2011 May;34 Suppl 2:S297-303. Parati G, Bilo G, Ochoa JE. Department of Clinical Medicine and Prevention, University of Milano-Bicocca, Milan, Italy.

In 2008, when the UK Prospective Diabetes Study (UKPDS) group presented their 30-year findings concerning the possible sustained effects of improved glycemic control after 10 years of extended follow-up in type 2 diabetic patients, a so-called "legacy effect" was reported to address the long-term emergent and/or sustained benefits of early improved glycemic control. Opposite results were obtained by the Hypertension in Diabetes Study (HDS) carried out in the frame of UKPDS, with no evidence of any legacy effect on cardiovascular (CV) outcomes for an initial 4-year period of tight blood pressure (BP) control. Thus, it was concluded that BP control has to be continued over time, since, although it had a short time-to-effect relationship in preventing stroke, BP control was associated with a short persistence of its clinical benefits once the intervention was discontinued. These findings are unique because, whereas most interventional trials in hypertension that included diabetic patients have shown a reduction in CV outcomes shortly after starting treatment, only the UKPDS-HDS specifically explored the possible persistence of clinical benefits after discontinuing intensive BP-lowering intervention.

This article aims to provide a critical interpretation of the UKPDS findings of lack of BP legacy, in the context of the currently available evidence on the benefits of antihypertensive treatment. The importance of effective BP control in type 2 diabetic patients to prevent CV outcomes and other diabetes-related complications is underlined, with emphasis on early, tight, and continuous BP control to optimize patients' protection.

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