Diabetes mellitus is a chronic metabolic disorder whose prevalence has increased exponentially in recent years. It has become one of the most important public health challenges that have grabbed the attention of policymakers. However, what has made the situation more alarming is its association with the silent killer: hypertension or high blood pressure. The combination of diabetes and hypertension has been described as ‘lethal’ by the American Diabetes Association. According to a survey conducted by the association, less than half of the diabetic population is not aware of their blood pressure levels and their effects.
Although the exact cause behind this association is not known, it is believed that obesity and a sedentary lifestyle contribute the most to diabetes and hypertension. Some of the other factors that may contribute include indulging in food items that are rich in fats and sodium and chronic inflammatory conditions.
Risk factors for Hypertension and Diabetes
Infamously, referred to as ‘the sweet pressure’, having hypertension and diabetes can worsen the long-term effects of diabetes like cardiovascular complications, renal disease, retinopathy, and peripheral neuropathy. Several studies have proven the association between high blood pressure and diseases related to aging disorders like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Does Diabetes cause Hypertension?
A diabetic person either does not have enough insulin or the insulin does not work efficiently in the body. The glucose levels increase beyond the normal levels and accumulates in the blood vessels, stiffening them. This can restrict the blood supply to various organs and causes extensive damage. When the blood vessels of the heart and kidney get affected, the blood pressure levels rise.
Complications associated with Diabetes and Hypertension
Diabetes and hypertension can cause a myriad of complications ranging from cardiovascular risks like stroke and heart attack, peripheral neuropathy, retinopathy, and nephropathy to memory impairment issues like Alzheimer’s disease. Incidence of hearing impairment also increases in diabetic people.
How to Manage Blood Pressure and Blood Sugar Levels?
Making changes to the lifestyle plays an important role in lowering blood pressure levels and keeping blood sugar levels under control. Maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly are recommended to prevent hypertension and diabetes mellitus. Doctors advise patients to either do 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise or 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise. Exercising regularly can help strengthen heart muscles.
Apart from being active physically, cutting out on processed food items and switching to low-fat dairy products can make a significantly impact blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
Additional changes in the diet that can be made are:-
- Including more vegetables, fruits, lean meat and fish in diet.
- Decreasing the consumption of salty and fried food items.
- Having smaller meals rather than one large meal.
- Using cooking methods that involve less use of oil like baking, grilling, and baking.
- Including Healthy alternatives like brown rice and whole-grain bread should be used.
- Avoiding alcohol consumption of alcohol and
- Getting rid of smoking habits
What are some of the Treatment Strategies?
Although lifestyle modifications can both prevent and reverse the onset of diabetes and hypertension, some people may have to take medication. The overall condition of the person is assessed thoroughly before prescribing any medicines. The medicines prescribed to hypertensive people fall under one of the following categories:-
- Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors / Angiotensin II receptor blockers
- Calcium channel blockers
Diabetes is treated using oral hypoglycemic medicines like biguanides, DPP-4 inhibitors, glucagon-like peptides, meglitinides, and sulfonylureas. Some people may be advised insulin to bring their sugar levels under control. Lifestyle changes and medications not only help you to live well with diabetes but can also reduce the chances of developing complications.
Author: Tuhina Mishra