Diabetics Benefit from Blood Pressure Drug

Blood pressure drug called Benicar delays kidney disease in patients with diabetes

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Type 2 diabetics are exposed to many health risks, including developing kidney problems. New research shows that a common blood pressure drug may help these patients protect their kidneys.

Findings from a recent study show that olmesartan (Benicar) - a drug normally used to reduce blood pressure - can slow down the development of kidney disease in patients with type 2 diabetes.

dailyRx Insight: Benicar can help diabetics delay kidney disease, but may damage your heart.

Despite this good news, the researchers also found that taking the drug might increase the risk of heart-related death. Throughout the course of the study, more diabetic patients died from heart-related causes while taking olmesartan, compared to patients who were not taking the drug.

For their study, a team of researchers from around the world wanted to see if treating diabetic patients with olmesartan would delay the onset of microalbuminuria - a marker of kidney disease. The researchers assigned nearly 4,500 patients with type 2 diabetes to take either olmesartan or a placebo for a little over three years.

In patients who took olmesartan, the amount of time before the onset of microalbuminuria increased by 23 percent. In other words, it took 23 percent longer for diabetic patients taking olmesartan to develop signs of kidney disease.

However, 15 patients taking olmesartan died from heart-related causes, compared to only 3 patients taking a placebo. It is unclear whether the blood pressure drug was responsible for the higher death rates, especially because there were more non-fatal cardiovascular events in the placebo group than in the olmesartan group.

Nearly 26 million individuals are affected by diabetes in the United States each year, with about seven million people going undiagnosed. Diabetes is a chronic metabolic disease with no cure in which a person has high blood sugar because the body does not produce enough insulin (Type 1) or because cells do not respond to the insulin that is produced (Type 2). There are three main types of diabetes: Type 1, Type 2 and Gestational. Several groups of oral drugs, are effective for Type 2, such as Glucophage, Glucotrol, and Prandin, among many others. The therapeutic combination in Type 2 may eventually include injected insulin as symptoms worsen. Along with the presence of physical symptoms, a common blood test known as the A1c can test for the disease.

The study is published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
March 23, 2011
Last Updated:
March 24, 2011