Type 2 Diabetes and Hypertension

How is Type 2 diabetes related to hypertension?

Hypertension and diabetes are often referred to as the ‘terrible two.’ Indeed, being diagnosed with these two conditions at the same time can pack a mean punch, because both diseases can be fatal when left untreated. However, although diabetes is known to be caused by a defect in the body’s ability to produce or respond to insulin, the main link between the two, and which one causes the worsening of the other, has never been fully established. How is Type 2 diabetes related to hypertension?

Some experts believe that angiotensin may play a big role linking diabetes and hypertension. Angiotensin is a substance produced by the blood which can affect blood pressure and also interferes with the normal metabolic signalling of insulin.

Hypertension is defined as blood pressure levels above 90/40 mmHg and is common among patients with type 2 diabetes, depending on body weight, predisposition to obesity, ethnicity, and age. In type 2 diabetes hypertension is often found as part of the syndrome of insulin resistance.

Hypertension is a major risk factor in the development of diabetes and its complications. Patients who already have diabetes often face the risk of developing hypertension as well, because the disease predisposes the arteries to damage and subsequent hardening, called atherosclerosis.

Individuals with type 2 diabetes are more likely to have high levels of cholesterol and triglyceride abnormalities, are obese, and have high blood pressure, all of which are major risk factors for the development of cardiovascular disease. The sad thing is, many diabetics also have all these conditions AT THE SAME TIME. This is called the metabolic syndrome, and is often seen as excess weight around the waist, high triglyceride levels, and low levels of good cholesterol, hypertension and high blood sugar levels.

Type 2 diabetes increases the risk of heart disease twice in men and four times in women. This is due partly to the associated cardiovascular risk factors, hypertension among them and including abnormal lipid levels and clotting abnormalities.

Untreated hypertension often may lead to stroke, heart attack, coronary artery disease, diabetic neuropathy and retinopathy and kidney failure.

If you have diabetes, you need to monitor your blood pressure levels regularly. Blood pressure readings may vary from one person to another but generally blood pressure should not exceed130/ 80 mmHg. High blood pressure often does not present with symptoms unless it has become very high, which makes regular monitoring (read: having your BP taken regularly) is a must, especially if you are a diabetic.

Hypertension is often treated with a mix of ACE inhibitors, beta blockers and calcium channel blockers–drugs which can lower your BP, diuretics, and serious changes in lifestyle. This includes quitting smoking, exercising regularly, and following a balanced, diabetic, low calorie diet. Diuretics help lower blood pressure by eliminating water and salt through urination.

A recent study in late 2007 revealed that baseline blood pressure and subsequent increase of BP are strong predictors of the development of type 2 diabetes among initially healthy women. The study, which was published in the October 9 Online first issue of the European Heart Journal, carried the message of the importance of blood pressure monitoring as part of early detection strategies for type 2 diabetes.