Does High Blood Pressure Increase Your Diabetes Risk?

High blood pressure can cause some major problems with your body. It affects one in three Americans, so it definitely isn’t uncommon. But often times, when you have high blood pressure, it comes along with other problems. High cholesterol, obesity, and high blood sugar may also accompany high blood pressure. And all of these things are commonly associated with something else: Diabetes. Does high blood pressure increase your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes?

Male Diabetic Checking Blood Sugar

Can high blood pressure cause diabetes? | iStock.com/monkeybusinessimages

What is the difference between high blood pressure and diabetes?

Hypertension and diabetes are two very different things. Hypertension occurs when the pressure of your blood against your artery walls is higher than it should be. As a result, the arteries need to work harder to push blood through your body, which causes those artery walls to thicken. If the artery walls thicken too much, they cause a blockage, which can lead to problems such as a potentially fatal heart attack or stroke.

Diabetes, on the other hand, has to do with blood sugar rather than blood pressure. Type 2 diabetes depends on two main factors: Genetics and lifestyle. If you have a genetic predisposition to diabetes, you’re more likely to get it. But if you don’t eat healthy or exercise, you’re also likely to get it. Poor lifestyle habits, such as a diet high in white carbohydrates, sodium, and saturated fat, makes you more likely to develop insulin resistance. Once you develop insulin resistance, your body can’t keep your blood sugar levels steady, and the onset of diabetes occurs.

There is definitely a relationship between hypertension and diabetes

Hypertension and diabetes often go hand in hand. Many people who live with diabetes also have high blood pressure. That’s because poor lifestyle habits tend to lead to both. High cholesterol levels, obesity, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar levels all result from an unhealthy diet and a sedentary lifestyle. While many people (but not all) who have Type 2 diabetes also have high blood pressure, not everyone who has high blood pressure has diabetes.

But having one won’t necessarily give you the other

High blood pressure isn’t related to insulin resistance. They have the same causes, though, which is why they’re often discussed hand in hand. Genetics and lifestyle habits play a major role in both, but you don’t get one because of the other. The best way to avoid either of them is to control what you’re eating and how often you work out. Make sure to add plenty of fruits and vegetables to your diet, and lay off the white carbohydrates and sodium. Opt for whole wheat foods, and stick to a diet that contains fewer than 1,500 milligrams of sodium daily.

The American Heart Association suggests getting at least 150 minutes per week of moderate physical activity. 75 minutes per week of rigorous physical activity is fine, too. Diet and exercise will not only make you feel better day to day, they’ll also help you avoid problems down the road. The earlier you begin taking care of yourself, the less likely you’ll be to develop either disease.

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