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Tuesday, 22 May, 2001, 23:28 GMT 00:28 UK
Diabetes deaths 'can be prevented'
Diabetes can lead to kidney disease
One in five kidney deaths among patients with Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure could be prevented, research suggests.

Researchers found that treatment with the high blood pressure drug irbesartan (Aprovel) has the potential to save many thousands of lives.

According to their study, up to one million people in the UK with Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure could be at a much reduced risk of developing or dying of kidney disease if they took the drug.

Up to 50% of patients with Type 2 diabetes will develop kidney disease, particularly those who suffer from high blood pressure.

Kidney disease from diabetes is the most common cause of chronic renal failure leading to dialysis or transplantation.

The PRIME study evaluated Aprovel in more than 1,700 people with Type 2 diabetes in centres around the world.

Cases rising

Dr Edmund Lewis, director of nephrology at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center, Chicago, said:

Type 2 diabetes
Around 2m people in the UK have Type 2 diabetes
In 1998 the annual NHS cost of caring for people with Type 2 diabetes was 2bn
People with Type 2 diabetes have a 30% increased risk of developing the kidney disease nephropathy
Number of people with diabetes in the UK is expected to increase to 3 million by 2010
"The drug is not only an excellent blood pressure drug for patients with diabetes and hypertension, but more importantly it protects their kidneys from damage independent of its effect on blood pressure.

"We now have a drug that slows the progression of kidney disease, and delays or prevents the need for dialysis or transplantation.

"Treating patients with this therapy can save lives and improve quality of life. It can also lead to an enormous reduction in health care costs."

Diabetes is the fourth leading cause of death in developed countries.

The incidence of Type 2 diabetes in the UK is expected to reach three million by the year 2010.

This is partly due to an ageing population and to increasing levels of obesity.

Simon O'Neill, of Diabetes UK, said: "Type 2 diabetes affects 1 million people in the UK, with a similar number who have diabetes but don't yet know it.

"The complications of Type 2 diabetes and hypertension are potentially life threatening and have a huge impact on these patients' quality of life.

"We welcome the results of the study which will provide new evidence to help doctors improve the management of this challenging condition."

The research was presented at a meeting of the American Society of Hypertension in San Francisco.

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