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HealthWatch: Link Between Hypertension, Type 2 Diabetes

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- There is a surprising new link between high blood pressure and diabetes.

A hormone that's normally associated with the former is also linked to the latter. And as CBS2's Dr. Max Gomez reported Wednesday, this could lead to new ways to prevent diabetes.

There are more than 30 million Americans with diabetes, mostly the Type 2 version. And that number is expected to rise 50 percent by 2030, which means millions will be at risk for heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney failure and amputation.

That's why this hormone link could be so important.

African Americans and High Blood Pressure

A YouTube video from the Peter Sheehan Diabetes Care Foundation shows the many faces of Type 2 diabetes, and a link that has gone underappreciated.

Now, new research is looking at the connection.

"For many years, we've been trying to understand the link between diabetes and hypertension. Aldosterone provides one potential clue in that link," said Dr. Joshua Joseph of Ohio State's Wexner Medical Center.

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Researchers say that high levels of aldosterone cause insulin resistance and also reduce the amount of insulin produced by the pancreas -- the two main causes of Type 2 diabetes.

In a new study, researchers followed 1,600 people for 10 years and found that study participants with the highest level of the hormone were more than twice as likely to develop diabetes than those with lower levels.

But the differences were even more drastic among certain ethnicities. Within the group with the highest aldosterone levels, African-Americans had nearly three times the risk of developing diabetes, while the risk for Chinese-Americans was more than 10-fold.

"Some of the potential explanations are differences in genes and genetics. Another potential difference is salt sensitivity," Dr. Joseph said.

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A clinical trial is about to get underway using medication to lower aldosterone levels in African-Americans with pre-diabetes to see if it could work to prevent full-blown diabetes.

In the meantime, doctors say the best way to prevent type-2 diabetes is by maintaining a healthy weight -- obesity is also strongly linked to diabetes -- and also getting plenty of exercise. That and a healthy diet is your best bet for prevention.


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