People with high blood pressure are almost 60% more likely to develop diabetes, research on 4.1m people has shown.
The Oxford University study provides the strongest evidence yet of a link between the two conditions.
Experts behind the study said more research was needed to see whether using drugs to lower blood pressure would help prevent people developing Type 2 diabetes.
Kazem Rahimi, deputy director of the George Institute for Global Health UK at Oxford, which carried out the study, said: “This is potentially a game changer in the understanding and treatment of diabetes.
“Diabetes affects more than 400m people worldwide and we know that diabetics are more likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease such as heart attacks, stroke and heart failure.
“We can’t say for certain that one causes the other, but this study helps to connect the dots, showing that if you have high blood pressure there is a significantly greater chance of developing diabetes.
“Understanding the link will help us better communicate risks to patients and can provide another motivation for patients and doctors to aim for tight blood pressure control.”
The research on UK adults was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
High blood pressure was linked with new cases of diabetes in a wide range of individuals, including people of varying ages, as well as those of a normal weight, overweight, and obese.
Prof Rahimi said: “At a minimum we know for certain that the link exists, but is high blood pressure a cause of diabetes or just a risk factor? We still don’t know. In particular researchers can now look at whether lowering blood pressure is an effective treatment or reduces the risk of getting diabetes.”
Around 10% of Ireland’s health budget goes towards treating the disease and the complications it can cause for patients.
Diabetes affects more than 250,000 people in Ireland. The cost of diabetes is over €730m annually, with over 60% spent on treating the complications of the disease.
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