Other Medicines for People With Diabetes

People with diabetes are at a much higher risk for heart disease and other complications from diabetes. Having diabetes also increases the chances that people will develop these problems at an earlier age than people without diabetes.

Taking certain medicines can help:

  • Protect against heart attack and stroke
  • Protect the kidneys
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduce cholesterol levels in the blood

Talk to your doctor to find out if and when you should start taking the following medicines.

ACE Inhibitors

ACE inhibitors (angiotensin-converting enzyme) treat high blood pressure and heart failure. They help to keep blood vessels from constricting and they increase the amount of water and sodium that the body gets rid of in urine.

They also protect people with diabetes from kidney damage. We recommend ACE inhibitors for most people with diabetes who are aged 40 or older. Talk to your doctor to find out if you should be taking an ACE inhibitor.

ACE Receptor Blockers

A small number of people aren't able to take an ACE inhibitor because the drug makes them cough constantly. If you're a person who's not able to use an ACE inhibitor drug, your doctor might prescribe an alternative drug called an ARB or angiotensin receptor blocker.


Statins are medicines that lower blood cholesterol. If you have diabetes and are aged 40 or older, you should consider taking a statin drug even if your cholesterol levels aren't high. Talk to your doctor about having your cholesterol checked regularly.


Taking aspirin every day can lower your risk for blood clots, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes. We recommend that people with diabetes and who are aged 40 or older begin with a low-dose aspirin (81 milligrams) daily if they have no medical reason not to take it.

Calcium Channel Blockers

Calcium channel blockers lower blood pressure and slow the heart rate. This helps keep the heart from having to work too hard.

Beta Blockers

Beta blockers are used to lower blood pressure by slowing down the amount of blood that the heart pumps out.


Diuretics are also known as water pills. They can help lower blood pressure by increasing the amount of water and sodium that the body gets rid of in urine. They can also have an effect on the blood vessels, causing blood pressure to decrease. Diuretics are often used in combination with other blood pressure medicine because they can help other drugs work better.

Clinical review by David McCulloch, MD
Kaiser Permanente
Reviewed 03/01/2014