Hypertension is more prevalent in patients with diabetes than in the general population. It is believed that over 73.6% of adults with diabetes have hypertension. Both diseases share common risk factors but can be managed through lifestyle changes, including eating a healthy diet, maintaining an active lifestyle, weight control, stress management, and medication. Learn more about diabetes mellitus and hypertension treatment, including diabetes and hypertension care.
How Does Diabetes Mellitus Contribute to Hypertension?
Diabetes mellitus and hypertension are interlinked and have common risk factors. Diabetes, in the long term, affects blood vessels that help the heart pump. Similarly, patients with high blood pressure are more likely to have insulin resistance and, hence, prone to diabetes. And patients with both hypertension and diabetes have twice the chance of heart attack and stroke when compared to nondiabetic patients with hypertension.
Thus, you can observe that a person with one condition will likely have another, and patients with both conditions will observe that each condition worsens the other.
This is because in people with diabetes, the body does not produce enough insulin, or the insulin does not work effectively. This affects the body’s ability to produce nitric oxide, a molecule that ensures effective blood flow. Without sufficient nitric oxide, blood vessels become less elastic, restricting blood flow and oxygen. Over time, this makes the patient prone to hypertension.
Patients with diabetic mellitus and hypertension are more likely to develop complications like stroke, dementia, retinopathy, i.e., damage to the tissues at the back of the eyes, and kidney diseases.
Ideally, patients with diabetes mellitus must have a blood pressure of around 130/80. This is ensured by prescribing hypertension medications. In fact, medications like ACE inhibitors, angiotensin II blockers, and ACE 2 inhibitors can help manage diabetes, especially if it results from kidney disease.
Diabetes Mellitus and Hypertension Symptoms
It is not easy to detect high blood pressure in people with diabetes. Hence, patients are required to monitor their blood pressure regularly. Anywhere around 140/90 is higher and must be controlled through medication. However, some common signs of hypertension include – headache, dizziness, anxiety, chest pain, nausea, and abnormal heart rhythm.
Diabetes Mellitus and Hypertension Risk Factors
Certain factors make diabetics prone to hypertension. This includes,
- Genetics – someone in your family has high blood pressure
- Improper sleep
- Increased alcohol use and smoking
- Being overweight
- Chronic stress
- High sodium diet
- Sedentary lifestyle
Diabetes and Hypertension Care
Diabetes and hypertension care are important to prevent further complications like heart failure, kidney failure, etc. Prevention is the key to managing both blood glucose levels and blood pressure. One of the first steps towards diabetes mellitus and hypertension treatment is acknowledging the problem and committing towards a healthy lifestyle. This includes
Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle
If you are overweight, work towards losing weight. If you cannot join the gym, start by walking. Look at portion control or explore diet plans like ketogenic or intermittent fasting. But don’t start any diet plan without consulting your doctor.
A balanced diet focuses on macros and micros, including the quality of carbohydrates. This is especially important because carbohydrates affect blood sugar levels. This includes non-starchy vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and fibre-rich foods that give you a feeling of fullness. Needless to say, you must limit salt intake.
As for exercise, I work towards strengthening heart health and using glucose by increasing insulin sensitivity.
Don’t forget your medicines at any cost, especially if you have hypertension. Your doctor will prescribe medicines depending on how high your blood pressure is. Hypertension medications include ACE inhibitors to relax blood vessels, beta-blockers to reduce heart rate, calcium channel blockers to prevent calcium heart muscles and arteries from contracting, and diuretics to remove excess sodium and fluid buildup in the body.
Diabetic medications include insulin for patients with Type 1 diabetes and non-insulin medication for Type 2 diabetes and reduce high blood pressure.
Engage in stress-relieving activities like yoga, meditation, tai chi, etc. Breathing exercises help manage anxiety and stress. Try getting a higher perspective on things and learn to go with the flow.