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The Link Between Diabetes And Hypertension

Hypertension and type 2 diabetes are both aspects of metabolic syndrome, a condition that includes obesity and cardiovascular disease.

Both hypertension and diabetes may have some underlying causes in common, and they share some risk factors. They also contribute to a worsening of each other's symptoms. The ways of managing both conditions also overlap.

Read on to find out more about the link between high blood pressure and diabetes, how to detect them, and how to reduce the negative impact of both.

Some relatively simple tests can show if a person has diabetes or hypertension.

People can also buy blood glucose testing kits for diabetes and blood pressure monitors for blood pressure, which they can use at home.

Identifying hypertension

People sometimes refer to hypertension as the "silent killer," and many people are not aware they have it. The American Heart Association (AHA) stress that most of the time there are no symptoms. People usually find out they have high blood pressure when a doctor takes a blood pressure reading, or they take one themselves at home.

The reading will give two numbers:

  • The systolic is the top number
  • The diastolic is the bottom number

According to the AHA, the results will be one of the following:

  • Normal: Systolic below 120 and diastolic below 80
  • Elevated: Systolic 120–129 and diastolic under 80
  • Hypertension stage 1: Systolic 130–139 and diastolic 80–89
  • Hypertension stage 2: Systolic 140-plus and diastolic 90 or more
  • Hypertensive crisis: Systolic higher than 180 and diastolic above 120.

A hypertensive crisis means that the individual needs to see a doctor immediately. A person with early-stage hypertension has a risk of developing hypertension in the future. Lifestyle habits can help control blood pressure and prevent hypertension and its complications. These lifestyle influencers include:

  • exercise
  • a healthful diet
  • weight control
  • medication

Identifying diabetes

Not everyone with diabetes will notice symptoms, including those with a diagnosis, as long as they are controlling their condition effectively. If symptoms of high blood sugar levels do appear, they include:

  • excessive thirst
  • frequent need to urinate
  • increased night time urination
  • weakness and tiredness
  • blurred vision

A person may also notice that they start to have more infections, including urinary tract infections, thrush, and upper respiratory tract infections. They may also notice that wounds and infections take longer to heal. Tests will show that a person has high levels of sugar in their urine and blood. Glucose levels after fasting for 8 hours may be:

  • Normal: Less than 100 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl)
  • Prediabetes: Between 100–125 mg/dl
  • Diabetes: A reading of 126 mg/dl or above

Other tests that a doctor may carry out will show the results in different ways. There are three kinds of diabetes mellitus, all of which have different causes:

Type 1 diabetes tends to appear during childhood or adolescence, but it can occur later in life. Symptoms can emerge relatively suddenly or over a number of weeks. Type 1 happens when the immune system attacks the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. There is no way to avoid type 1 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes can take years to develop, and most people do not notice symptoms. Someone typically finds out that they have prediabetes or type 2 diabetes when they attend a screening or if complications occur, such as neuropathy or kidney problems.

Current guidelines recommend screening for everyone over the age of 45 years or before if they have risk factors, such as obesity. This precaution is because someone with an early diagnosis has a better chance of reversing or slowing the progress of the condition and avoiding complications before they start.

One way to do this is through similar lifestyle choices that doctors recommend for hypertension.

Gestational diabetes occurs only in pregnancy, but it can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes later in life. If the routine screening shows high blood sugar levels during pregnancy, a doctor will monitor the person's condition until delivery. They will continue to do this for a few weeks afterward, but blood sugar levels usually fall. Gestational diabetes can lead to various complications, including pre-eclampsia, the main symptom of which is very high blood pressure.

The authors of a 2012 studyTrusted Source note that diabetes and hypertension often occur together and may share some common causes. These include:

  • obesity
  • inflammation
  • oxidative stress
  • insulin resistanceTrusted Source

Can diabetes cause hypertension?

A person with diabetes either does not have enough insulin to process glucose or their insulin does not work effectively. Insulin is the hormone that enables the body to process glucose from food and use it as energy. As a result of insulin problems, glucose cannot enter the cells to provide energy, and it accumulates in the bloodstream instead.

As blood with high glucose levels travels through the body, it can cause widespread damage, including to the blood vessels and kidneys. These organs play a key role in maintaining healthy blood pressure. If they experience damage, blood pressure can rise, increasing the risk of further harm and complications.

Can hypertension cause diabetes?

A meta-analysis appearing in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC) in 2015 looked at data for more than 4 million adults. It concluded that people with high blood pressure have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

This link may be due toTrusted Source processes in the body that affect both conditions, for example, inflammation.

The combined impact of diabetes and high blood pressure can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, and other health problems.

In 2012, researchers quoted figures suggesting that 30%Trusted Source of people with type 1 diabetes and 50–80% of those with type 2 diabetes have high blood pressure in the United States.

There are three ways in which high glucose levels in the blood can increase blood pressure:

  • The blood vessels lose their ability to stretch.
  • The fluid in the body increases, especially if diabetes is already affecting the kidneys.
  • Insulin resistance may involve processes that increase the risk of hypertension.

Controlling blood sugar levels and blood pressure can help prevent complications.

Blood pressure monitors and blood glucose monitors are available for purchase online.

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