The short answer is yes. In addition to sharing some common risk factors (including being overweight and inactive), if you suffer from one of those conditions, there is an increased chance that you’ll develop the other. And if you have both conditions, they may exacerbate each other.1
As a result of our modern lifestyle and diet, hypertension (or high blood pressure) and type 2 diabetes now commonly coexist. In fact, hypertension is twice as frequent in patients with diabetes than people without diabetes. Furthermore, patients with hypertension often show signs of insulin resistance (an early indicator of diabetes) and are at risk of progressing to diabetes.2
Glucose is a form of sugar that our bodies use as the main source of energy. But it needs to be converted. Importantly, glucose isn’t just found in sweets or table sugar. Sugar is a type of carbohydrate, and when we eat food containing carbohydrates (such as bread, pasta, fruits and starchy vegetables), our digestive system breaks down the digestible ones into sugar that enters the bloodstream.3
Under normal circumstances, we produce a hormone called insulin, which converts the sugar into energy for use around the body. But in people with diabetes, insulin isn’t produced, or isn’t produced in sufficient quantities to convert the sugar/glucose, so the glucose stays in the bloodstream and has the potential to damage tissues and organs, including some that help maintain a healthy blood pressure, such as the blood vessels and kidneys.1,4
It’s important to know that there are actually three types of diabetes:4
Type 1 is an autoimmune disorder (where the body’s immune system attacks the cells that produce insulin), and it’s managed by insulin injections,5 but Type 2 is increasing at the fastest rate and is largely due to our diet and inactive lifestyle.4 Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy.
Clearly, the best opportunity to help avoid or manage Type 2 diabetes while simultaneously reducing the risk of hypertension and other cardiovascular issues is to tackle lifestyle and diet – as well as watching out for early signs and symptoms of both.
The link between hypertension and diabetes is so strong that the American Diabetes Association (ADA) suggest that the “combination of high blood pressure can significantly raise your risk of having a heart attack or stroke, as well as increase the chances of other diseases.”6
Unfortunately, both hypertension and diabetes can be ‘silent’ diseases. In other words, there may be no symptoms, or we pass them off as ‘just getting older.4
Regular testing for diabetes is probably the best way to ensure you pick up early signs, so next time you see your doctor, it might be worthwhile asking for a diabetes check-up.
Your doctor can also keep an eye on your blood pressure. But if you’d like to check it more regularly than doctor visits, consider a home blood pressure device.
Good quality, certified home blood pressure monitors are very easy to use, and quite affordable. Furthermore, measuring at home provides a more accurate picture of what’s happening with your blood pressure because it’s not just a single snapshot – it looks at patterns over a longer period of time, which can then be taken to your health professional for evaluation.7
For a great digital blood pressure device, check out the Omron range here.
Always read the label and follow the directions for use. For people with high blood pressure. Consult your doctor to evaluate the readings. Check your device periodically for accuracy.