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How is high blood pressure related to diabetes?

Blood pressure is the pressure that your heart applies to push blood through your blood vessels and around your body. People with high blood pressure struggle with blood pumping through their heart and blood vessels with excessive force. If this keeps on for an extended period of time, the pressure can tire and enlarge the heart muscle.
It is important to keep the blood pressure under control in case of diabetes. You are more likely to have a stroke, heart disease, or other complications if your blood pressure is high. 

Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, generally occurs alongside diabetes mellitus, including type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes. Studies show that there might be a link between them. 
Obesity, inflammation, oxidative stress and insulin resistance are assumed to be the common pathways between diabetes and hypertension.

Hypertension is more prevalent in people with diabetes. Around 3 in 10 people with type 1 diabetes and about 8 in 10 people with type 2 diabetes are likely to develop high blood pressure at some stage in their life.
Blood pressure should be below 140/80mmHg for people with diabetes. It is important to speak to your healthcare team about your individual target. 

Mostly, there is no single cause of high blood pressure and diabetes. But there are some things that can put you more at risk.

  • Excessive weight/ obesity
  • Following an unhealthy diet
  • Stress
  • Poor sleeping habits
  • Inactive lifestyle
  • Low levels of vitamin D

A family history of hypertension and diabetes also increases the risk of it. Having hypertension appears to increase the risk of diabetes and having diabetes increases the risk of hypertension, i.e.  the two are highly interdependent.

Both hypertension and diabetes act on the same major organs and the common denominator in these target organs is related to its vascular tree. If both are combined, they can lead to the following health problems- 

Kidney, Eyes and Brain complications- The combined presence of hypertension and diabetes together accelerates the decrease in renal function, the development of cerebral diseases, and diabetic retinopathy.
Heart Diseases- Diabetic hypertensive patients are more likely to have coronary artery disease than those who suffer from hypertension or diabetes alone.
Sexual Dysfunction- Both men and women have an increased risk of sexual dysfunction if they are diabetic hypertensive.

Diabetes and hypertension both are asymptomatic in their early stages, so it is important to seek routine medical attention. The following symptoms are associated with high blood pressure and diabetes-

  • Frequent urination
  • Excessive thirst
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Slow wound healing
  • Frequent genitourinary infection

Severe hypertension can cause-

  • Headache 
  • Anxiety
  • Sweating

High blood pressure is almost always asymptomatic. It is, therefore, frequently referred to as a ‘silent killer.’ 

Lifestyle factors are crucial for both blood glucose and blood pressure. Here are a few things you can practice for healthy lifestyle-

  • Regularly visit your primary care physician.
  • Maintain a healthy body weight
  • Limit your salt intake to two grams per day, i.e.  about one teaspoon.
  • Eat a diet with low sugar but plenty of fruits, vegetables, fish, healthy fats and whole grains.
  • Don’t smoke and limit your alcohol consumption.

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