A new study shows the blood pressure levels of a diabetic are not that bad, even though they have an elevated blood sugar level.
The researchers looked at 1.5 million people aged 18 to 65 and found that people with Type 1 diabetes were not at risk of dying of cardiovascular disease.
However, those with Type 2 diabetes were at a higher risk.
The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, compared the blood pressures of 2.3 million people in the US and Australia and found no difference in the blood glucose levels.
The Australian study also found no differences between those with and without diabetes.
However it did say that people of different ethnicities tended to have higher blood pressure than the average, which could lead to differences in the way they are treated for cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Dr David Nutt, an expert in the history of medicine at Imperial College London, said the results were significant because they suggest diabetes may be associated with a low blood pressure.
He said it was the first study to investigate the relationship between diabetes and blood pressure in a large cohort of people.
“We have to look at the relationship, and this is the first paper that has looked at the blood sugar levels of the people in a larger cohort,” he said.
“This shows that there is no relationship between the blood sugars and their heart disease, diabetes, or cardiovascular disease risk.”
Dr Nutt said people with diabetes are more likely to be overweight, and their lifestyle choices may play a role in their health.
“In our study, the people with the highest blood sugar were more likely than the lowest to be obese and overweight, which is very common for people with type 1 diabetes,” he told ABC Radio National.
“People with diabetes, especially, are much more likely in terms of their lifestyle to be very active.”
Dr John Kostrzak, an exercise and health expert at the University of Oxford, said he was concerned about the implications of the study, which he said did not account for other factors such as diabetes.
“There’s a lot of good work that’s been done to understand the relationships between lifestyle factors and the risk of cardiovascular events and death,” he says.
“But the study has the potential to underestimate the true impact of lifestyle factors, and in particular that diabetes is associated with higher risk of mortality, and so we need to look closely at what lifestyle factors may be contributing to higher mortality rates.”
Dr Kostrsak said people of African descent were at higher risk because they were less likely to have high blood sugar and the study did not look at other factors.
“These people are not very physically active and so it’s very unlikely they would be overweight or obese, and therefore they are not going to have the same risk of heart disease,” he explains.
Dr Nutts said people who were obese were more at risk for cardiovascular diseases and diabetes because their bodies are made up of a different set of cells and organs.
“They have an extra layer of fat that they can store,” he explained.
“The risk of developing type 2 diabetes is also much higher in obese people because they have a much higher body fat mass.”
Dr Wladimir Brod, professor of medicine and director of the Centre for Cardiovascular Health and Research at Imperial, said more research was needed to establish the extent of the relationship.
“What’s really important is to understand whether there is a connection between the levels of blood sugar, the level of obesity, or the level and intensity of physical activity,” he added.
“If there is, that may point to something that can be treated with drugs that can reduce the level in the body.”