hHigh blood pressure – also known as HypertensionAnd type 2 diabetes are two of the most common medical conditions in the United States, and unfortunately, they often occur together. Some research has found that 85% of middle-aged or older adults with type 2 diabetes also have high blood pressure, and both conditions increase a person’s risk of heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease.
This increased risk is significant, and in some cases dangerous. Researchers have found that people with type 2 diabetes are up to four times more likely to develop cardiovascular disease than those without the condition. People with diabetes are twice as likely to die from cardiovascular problems. Jumps in rates for stroke, kidney failure, and other fatal complications are also significant for people with both. high blood pressure and diabetes.
Why do these conditions often appear side by side? Experts are still trying to pinpoint the exact links, but they say extra weight may play a role. Many people with high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes are also obese, and this “triad,” as some researchers have called it, is associated with metabolic and endocrine problems that overlap and promote disease. “Obesity appears to be fertile soil for both,” says Dr. Srinivasan Bedhu, MD, professor of internal medicine at the University of Utah School of Medicine.
Also, the prevalence of high blood pressure ensures that most people with type 2 diabetes will end up with both diseases. Nearly half of adults in the United States have high blood pressure, and this percentage increases with age. It can develop early [ages] 30 to 42 years old, but in most cases, when you’re in your 50s, it’s there,” says Dr. George Pacris, MD, professor of medicine at the University of Chicago. Although high blood pressure often precedes Type 2 diabetesPreis says that diabetes is increasingly prevalent among young people and even children. It’s more important than ever to keep an eye on both conditions, perhaps especially if you’re overweight or obese.
Here, experts explain how high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes cause problems together, as well as how to manage the conditions and reduce the risks associated with them.
Read more: These new developments could make living with type 2 diabetes more manageable
Understanding the connection
Every time the heart beats, it sends blood back to the body through the circulatory system. Between beats, the heart fills with blood. A person’s blood pressure refers to two different but related measurements of this cycle. The first, known as systolic blood pressure, is the pressure inside the arteries when the heart beats and pumps blood. The second measurement, known as diastolic blood pressure, is the pressure inside the arteries when the heart is resting and filling with blood. These two numbers are usually presented together, and they always rise and fall in unison. In the United States, blood pressure scores higher than 130/80 mm Hg are considered hypertension.
Preis says that high blood pressure is often called the “silent killer” because it may not cause any symptoms. Even when a person’s blood pressure is dangerously high, the symptoms that do appear are so common and nonspecific — meaning they appear for all kinds of causes — that you can’t link them to high blood pressure. These nonspecific symptoms include dizziness, headache, and blurred vision. By the time they start, a person’s blood pressure may have been up — and doing damage — for several years. What kind of damage? High blood pressure can tighten or injure your arteries in ways that increase your risk of heart disease, arterial disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular complications. High blood pressure also increases pressure on the kidneys and some other organs.
Type 2 diabetes This is a medical condition known as high blood sugar levels. These high levels are caused by problems with insulin, a hormone that sends signals to the body’s cells that they need to absorb sugar into the blood. In people with type 2 diabetes, cells become “resistant” to insulin, which means they do not absorb blood sugar properly. As with high blood pressure, the early symptoms of type 2 diabetes — frequent urination, blurry vision, dramatic hunger spurs — may not raise red flags right away. If someone is not on the lookout for doctor’s appointments, they may not be aware that one or both of these conditions are present.
How do these conditions combine in ways that contribute to health problems? “Both affect the small blood vessels,” says Dr. Matthias Bronstrom, a hypertension specialist and researcher at Umea University in Sweden. Diabetes affects the blood vessels in ways that make them stiffer, and high blood pressure impairs their function. This stacking of arterial damage helps explain why the two conditions are linked to cardiovascular problems, including higher rates of heart disease and stroke.
At the same time, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes may also cause blood sugar levels to rise above normal. High blood sugar can damage the cells of the kidneys (as well as the heart and blood vessels). Kidney diseaseAnd finally, kidney failure is a common complication among people with these two conditions. “If you have [systolic] If your blood pressure is consistently above 180, within 12 to 15 years, you’ll be on dialysis, says Brickis, referring to a medical procedure that removes blood, filters it, and returns it to a person whose kidneys can no longer tolerate it. The high blood sugar caused by type 2 diabetes leads to more damage to kidney cells, and increases the chances of the kidneys suffering or failing to function.
Although cardiovascular and kidney problems are among the most common complications, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes can cause or contribute to a wide range of health problems — from dementia to blindness. “Both affect the blood vessels, which can harm the health of any organ system,” says Bronstrom.
Fortunately, there are effective ways to manage both conditions and thus reduce all of these health risks.
Read more: The truth about fasting and type 2 diabetes
what you can do
As with most common health conditions, experts say a combination of lifestyle changes and prescription medications is often effective in treating people with high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.
“First, I would say that lifestyle changes are the basics of managing all disease,” says Bronstrom. Re-emphasizes the strong associations high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes with obesity, and What role does being overweight play? It exacerbates many health complications. “Obesity or being overweight is the main driver for both conditions, so weight management will be extremely important,” he says. “Diet, exercise – any way you can lose weight is good.”
Even if you are not losing weight, exercise is still beneficial. “It increases circulation around the body and improves the function of small vessels, which may happen [blood] Pressing down,” he says. “It may also improve insulin sensitivity and reduce glucose.” That’s all good. Even if your workout sessions are sweaty, it can be helpful to spend less time sitting or sitting in a stable position – walking, on Example, or doing chores around the house on your feet.
When it comes to eating, Bronstrom highlights the DASH diet, which is endorsed by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute for the management of high blood pressure. (DASH stands for “Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.”) The DASH diet includes limiting the intake of saturated fats, common in red meat and fatty dairy products, as well as limiting the intake of salt and sugary foods and drinks. Meanwhile, the DASH diet recommends eating plenty of fruits and vegetables. Other experts endorse these eating habits. “I always tell my patients to eat healthy, which means more fruits and vegetables, less red meat, and fewer high-carb foods,” says Bidow at the University of Utah.
Recently, some researchers have examined the benefits of intermittent fasting plans for managing type 2 diabetes. These approaches involve limiting or eliminating calorie intake for a long period of time — usually 16 hours or more. There is evidence that they may be beneficial. It also appears to be safe for people with early or mild disease. “But if you have diabetes and are on medication, these diets can wreak havoc,” says Chris. “If you want to try it, you need the help of a doctor or a certified diabetes dietitian.”
Weight loss surgery may be a treatment option worth considering. Recent research shows that bariatric surgery has helped both young adults and adults better control their diabetes and high blood pressure. In some cases, especially those involving teenagers, weight loss surgery has eliminated the need for medications or even eliminated diseases completely.
Aside from surgery and lifestyle interventions, experts agree that prescribed medications are always necessary to control these diseases. “You can reduce your pill burden if you’re really good on the lifestyle side — so eat right, lower your sodium intake, and exercise regularly,” says Bricks. “But even on the low end, most people with diabetes and high blood pressure will need four to six medications.”
Others agree that pills are largely inevitable. I always compare [taking] “They have to pay taxes or brush your teeth,” says Dr. Tom Brewer, a resident cardiologist and researcher at the University of Amsterdam Medical Centers in the Netherlands. “It’s not fun, but you have to do it.”
In the United States, medical guidelines recommend that doctors aim to lower the blood pressure of people with high blood pressure and diabetes to degrees below 130/80 mm Hg. There is some debate about whether targeting lower numbers would be beneficial. Breuer has done research in this area, and he says he’s in many cases a proponent of striving for a systolic blood pressure of 120. “If a patient tolerates it, I tend to try to bring the blood pressure down to 120,” he says.
There are many different medicines used to treat people with high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. But two of the most popular options are ACE inhibitors and angiotensin II receptor blockers, both of which help relax arteries and thus aid blood flow. Aside from their effectiveness in high blood pressure, these medications also help protect the kidneys. Diuretics (medicines that increase urination), as well as beta-blockers and calcium channel blockers, are all common treatments.
Read more: People with diabetes are more likely to develop heart disease. How to reduce risks
“With these three drugs, the vast majority of patients reach their target blood pressure,” Brewer says.
For those at risk of developing high blood pressure, diabetes, or both, experts say all of the lifestyle measures listed above — eating a good diet, exercising and maintaining a healthy weight — are among the best ways to lower risk. By following doctors’ recommendations on medications and trying to live a healthier life, you can protect yourself from serious complications. “I tell patients: ‘You can help yourself,'” says Bkris. “But you have to make the effort.”
More must-read stories from TIME
Discussion about this post