Type 2 diabetes (hypertension), and a propensity to argue are strong features in my family tree.

They were both present in my father, who died at the age of 74. His family is also susceptible to strokes. This, again, can be linked to high blood sugar levels. 

So, I think I have some dodgy genes. That’s why I have a blood sugar test kit and a monitor for blood pressure at home. I also keep an eye on them both.

About half of British adults are hypertensive, with a third having raised blood sugar. Many don’t even know that they have it, as they’ve never been tested. 

Although they may seem to be separate conditions, increasing evidence suggests that these two conditions are closely connected. 

The bad news? Having both increases your chance of having a stroke or heart attack, and also your chances of developing dementia.

Along with a tendency to be argumentative, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure (hypertension) feature strongly in my family tree, writes MICHAEL MOSLEY

MICHAEL MOSLEY says that my family has a strong tradition of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure (hypertension), and a tendency toward argumentation.

The good news is that if you treat one, there’s a high chance you’ll also improve the other — for reasons we don’t understand, lowering your blood pressure cuts your risk of type 2 diabetes.

A study published in The Lancet last week confirmed this. It showed that medication and lifestyle changes can help lower blood pressure. This will reduce the risk of stroke or heart attack, as well as their chance of developing diabetes.

More than 145,000 individuals participated in the study. It showed that even small drops in blood pressure could reduce the chance of getting type 2 diabetes. There was one sting: Not all blood pressure medication had a positive effect.

While angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and angiotensin receptor II blockers lowered the diabetes risk, thiazide diuretics or beta-blockers increased it by 20 and 48 per cent respectively — possibly because the different drugs work in very different ways.

What can you do to lower your blood pressure, without resorting to medication? 

Weight loss is an easy but effective tool. It’s possible to cut back on salt or get more exercise. Other suggestions are:

Try Singing 

I enjoy belting out songs while I am driving or in the shower — and fortunately, research shows that singing is a good way to reduce the stress hormone, cortisol, which in turn should reduce your blood pressure and blood sugar levels (cortisol boosts your blood sugar levels by converting protein into glucose).   

It can happen quickly: Years ago I saw a patient in middle age who needed an operation but was anxious because of her high blood pressure. 

After singing to herself for 20 minutes, her blood pressure was low enough to allow the operation to go ahead.

For reasons we don't understand, lowering your blood pressure cuts your risk of type 2 diabetes

Low blood pressure is a great way to reduce the risk of getting type 2 diabetes.


A daily immersion in hot water can help lower blood pressure —the heat makes your blood vessels expand, reducing the work the heart has to do to make blood pump around your body, 

A Japanese study that used data from more than 30,000 people for 20 years confirmed the conclusion.

The risk of having a stroke or heart attack was 28% for those who take a hot bath every day, compared to people who only bathe once per week.


Eating dark chocolate (more than 75 per cent cocoa) can reduce blood pressure almost immediately — this is because it contains significant amounts of flavanols, compounds that can, among other things, cause your arteries to relax and expand.

I was part of an experiment that used ultrasounds to determine the stiffness and consistency of my blood vessels after having eaten two squares of dark cocoa. 

Surprise, I noticed a clear improvement in blood pressure after eating chocolate. Unfortunately, you won’t see the same results with milk chocolate.


My family’s King Charles spaniel Tari is my favorite dog. However, after looking into the benefits for health, we feel Tari is a great value. 

First, she encouraged me to take daily walks. This is great for my blood pressure. 

One study that looked at residents of a Perth housing development found dogs owners walked more and had lower blood pressure than their neighbors.

A visit to a zoo is also beneficial if your pet doesn’t exist. 

Researchers in Japan discovered that participants who spent a day at a zoo walked an average of 6,000 more steps than usual, and their blood pressure also dropped. 

The strength of your heart can be increased through exercise. This allows it to pump blood faster, which lowers your blood pressure.

Eating dark chocolate (more than 75 per cent cocoa) can reduce blood pressure almost immediately. Pictured: Dr Michael Mosley

Drinking dark chocolate, which contains more than 75 percent cocoa, can immediately reduce blood pressure. Pictured: Dr Michael Mosley


WE think we know how to breathe — after all, we’d be dead if not — but there are clear benefits from practising slow, deep breaths.

This activates our parasympathetic nervous systems (which control our stress response), and reduces heart beat and dilates blood vessels. Thus, it lowers blood pressure.

The four-two, four breathing exercise is one of my favorite. I practice it for about a minute most days. 

It involves inhaling through the nose until it reaches a count 4 and holding the breath for 2 seconds. Then, exhale out through the mouth, completing the count to 4. It is very relaxing.

Catnap is possible with your dog  

Recently, I was shocked to learn that a top sleep researcher shared her bed room with two dogs.

As a result, I have always believed that pets in the bedroom and on the mattress are bad for your sleep. 

Tari our dog is not permitted upstairs. I am sure she does sneak up when she believes we are not there.

The impact of sharing a bed or room with a dog has not been studied. But a key study in 2017 by the Mayo Clinic in the U.S., which looked at sleep efficiency — the amount of time we spend actually asleep — found it was around 80 per cent when there was a dog on the bed, and 83 per cent when it’s in the room (85 per cent or more sleep efficiency is considered excellent).

I was very surprised recently when a leading sleep researcher told me she shares her bed with two dogs. I've always assumed that dogs in the bedroom, let alone on the bed, are a disaster for sleep

It was a surprise to me when an expert in sleep research told me recently that her bed is shared with her two dogs. My assumption has always been that sleeping with dogs on your bed is a nightmare for you.

The dog owners were deprived of around 14 minutes sleep per night, but the dogs slept equally well on the beds or in their rooms.

Although sharing with your dog might not disrupt your sleep too much, dogs will get used to the idea of being at your side. 

As with humans, their wanderlust increases as they age.


Clare (my wife) and I are looking for ways to reduce our carbon footprint. In addition to keeping our home chilly, Clare and I are considering becoming more vegan.

It is clear that there are many evidences to support the idea that eating meat or dairy contributes significantly to atmospheric warming gases. Clearly, other people feel the same way, as the Brits have nearly doubled the amount of plant-based food and drink in the past decade.

Two things currently hold me back. One is my love for dairy, and I struggle to drink plant-based products. 

I don’t believe all of these alleged benefits for health.

If you make your own meals, you can get enough protein, and vitamins. A vegan diet is a great option. 

Problem is, food producers are on a rampage to create vegan-based super-processed foods like vegan sausage rolls. They are not likely to be any healthier than the meat alternatives.

Action On Salt (2018) found that burgers made without meat contained 15% more salt than those with meat.

Recent research in The Journal of Nutrition found that vegans were more likely to eat processed foods than meat-eaters.

It’s possible I will give Veganuary a try (attempting to be vegan only in January). However, I need to read more recipes and practice my first steps.