If You Have Diabetes, Will You Also Develop High Blood Pressure?

You’ve heard of diabetes before — and if it runs in your family or your diet needs an overhaul, you may be at risk for developing it in the future. When you have diabetes, it can spell serious trouble for your health. And it’s even worse when you realize this disease is often correlated with a number of other conditions that can further threaten your life.

Here, we take a look at why diabetes often coexists with high blood pressure (and what you can do to decrease your odds of developing both).

What is diabetes?

man is measuring the level of glucose in his blood

Man measuring his blood glucose levels for diabetes | iStock.com/BernardaSv

When you have diabetes, your body has trouble processing food and breaking it down into usable energy. Some diabetics have trouble creating enough insulin, which is the hormone that helps sugar enter your cells. For others with the condition, they’re not able to use insulin as efficiently as others. The sugar that’s not being used then builds in the blood and causes health problems.

You’re typically born with Type 1 diabetes, but you can develop Type 2 if you have an unhealthy lifestyle. Type 2 is much more common for this reason, but for many, this also means it’s reversible once your habits are back on track.

As for who’s the most at risk for developing diabetes, if you’re physically inactive, maintain an unhealthy diet, or above middle age, you have a greater chance than others. Also, if it runs in your family, you’ll want to be extra vigilant in getting your blood sugar levels evaluated.

There’s a relationship between high blood pressure and diabetes

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, you’re twice as likely to develop high blood pressure if you already have diabetes. Diabetes can stiffen the arteries, which are already negatively effected if you’re hypertensive. And while high blood pressure alone is enough to greatly increase your risk of heart attack and stroke, if you have both diseases at the same time, you’re more than four times as likely to get heart disease than someone without either health condition.

Not only that, but having both conditions raises your risk of developing kidney disease or eye issues that can then lead to blindness, Healthline notes. For this reason, it’s vital to get all of your numbers checked by a doctor if you know you already have one life-threatening health condition.

Does everyone with diabetes get high blood pressure?

Older Blood Pressure measurement

Doctor taking senior man’s blood pressure | Monkeybusinessimages/iStock/Getty Images

Thankfully, if you have either high blood pressure or diabetes, there’s no guarantee you’re going to develop the other. Johns Hopkins Medicine states around two-thirds of all patients with diabetes have a blood pressure that’s over 130/80 (hypertensive levels), however. And many others with diabetes have to take medications to help keep their blood pressure levels in check.

Want to reduce your risk of both high blood pressure and diabetes? Here are some lifestyle changes you should be making:

Get more active: Do you get at least 30 to 40 minutes of exercise daily? If not, you’ll definitely want to start. Healthline notes the exercise guidelines state you should be getting at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week, or 75 minutes of intense activity.

Limit fats, sodium, and sugar in your diet: Sugary and fatty foods are particularly bad if you have diabetes, so you should aim to avoid them in favor of fresh veggies, whole grains, and low-sugar fruits. Additionally, since fatty foods and sodium are bad for high blood pressure, you should also lay off the salt.

Essentially, when it comes to your diet, fresh is best. Dark, leafy greens are excellent for the body, whole grains are full of good-for-you fiber, lean meats and fish offer protein, and fruit has that natural sweetness that will keep you totally satisfied. The less processed your diet is, the better your body will feel.

Stop smoking: If you haven’t quit smoking yet, now is the prime time to do so. Smoking can make both conditions way worse, as can drinking too much alcohol. Keep your body happy by ditching both of these habits. Otherwise, you’ll skyrocket your risk for heart and diabetes-related diseases.

Inquire about medication: If your doctor hasn’t brought up the possibility of medicine yet, it may be a prime opportunity to ask. If lifestyle changes don’t help either condition, then prescription medication may be a life-saving option you should consider. ACE inhibitors, beta-blockers, diuretics, and calcium-channel blockers can all be helpful.

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