Union of hypertension, diabetes ups visual damage


Researchers from the University of Georgia have emerged with new insight that explains how increased visual impairment is endorsed by the unblessed union between hypertension and diabetes.

Their study, which examined animals that had both hypertension and diabetes in various stages, attributes the dangerous diabetic duo with harming blood vessels in the eye. According to the results, a more prominent emphasis on tight glycemic control and blood pressure control is necessary if physicians wish to delay diabetes-related vision loss in their patients.

"Results showed early signals of cell death in eyes from diabetic animals within the first six weeks of elevated blood pressure. Later, the tiny blood vessels around the optic nerve that nourish the retina and affect visual processing showed signs of decay as early as 10 weeks after diabetic animals develop hypertension," said Azza El-Remessy, assistant professor in the UGA College of Pharmacy and director of the UGA clinical and experimental therapeutics program.

The study, co-authored by El-Remessy and third-year clinical and experimental therapeutics graduate student Islam Mohamed, is the first to explain how diabetes in conjunction with increased blood pressure adversely affects vessel elements within the eye, according to the researchers.

"The fact that controlling blood pressure in diabetic patients is beneficial has been shown through many major clinical trials," Mohamed said in a UGA Today press release. "Our study highlights the synergistic and immediate interaction between systemic hypertension and diabetes as two independent risk factors for persistent retina damage known as retinopathy. This emphasizes the importance of addressing different cardiovascular risk factors in a holistic approach for improving management and prevention of retinopathy."

With an estimated 45 percent of adults in the United States suffering from either diabetes, hypertension or hypercholesterolemia, and 13 percent suffering from some sort of combination of the aforementioned afflictions, it is paramount that preventative methods be pursued.

"Healthcare providers, including pharmacists, should stress the importance of the tight control of blood sugar and blood pressure levels for their patients," El-Remessy said. "Providing patient education and counseling on how each of these metabolic problems independently can have accelerated devastating effects is critical and can result in better prevention and outcomes for the patients."

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