According to NCHS data released in 2010, 45% of the adults living in the US had at least one of three diagnosed or undiagnosed chronic conditions – hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, or diabetes; one in eight adults (13%) had two of these conditions, and 3% of adults had all three chronic conditions. Nearly one in seven US adults (15%) had one or more of these conditions undiagnosed.
Also, co-morbidity rates for diabetes and hypertension combined are very high. A special relationship exists between these two diseases, which has been detailed below
Diabetes and hypertension, when in combination, are more dangerous than each individually. This is because they tend to create a self-perpetuating cycle. In simple words, diabetes leads to more hypertension and more hypertension, in turn, leads to even more diabetes. This process can deteriorate the health of a patient adversely if not controlled immediately. Here is how the process works:
Diabetes causes excessive sugar levels in the blood. These sugar levels stick to the walls of the capillaries and the arteries and harden them. The heart is then tricked into thinking that there is no blood in the arteries. It, therefore, pumps blood harder to ensure the requisite levels. Since the walls have been thickened permanently, the heart has to pump more and more blood perpetually, leading to hypertension.
But the process does not stop here. Hypertension further aggravates its cause, leading to a cycle. As the freshly pumped blood flows through the muscles, blood vessels contract where the capillaries have not been thickened since they do not require the additional blood. When these blood cells contract, they do not absorb the sugar in the extra blood that has been pumped. Thus the level of blood sugar in the body rises because of hypertension.
The circular relationship whereby both diabetes and hypertension are the cause and effect of each other eluded medical professionals for quite some time. Now that it has been found, there are medicines available that can nullify the impact of this self-enforcing loop, which can have severe consequences if not controlled.
Common Risk Factors
Since it is known that diabetes and hypertension can have severe consequences on our health if they operate in conjunction, we need to know what are the chances of this happening. The bad news is that the chances are very high. Diabetes and hypertension not only work in tandem but are also caused by the same factors. Some of the common risk factors are as follows:
A diet, which is rich in oil, processed sugar, and fats, puts a strain on both the endocrine as well as the cardiovascular system of the body. The same kind of diet puts you at the risk of both diseases. Low levels of physical activity increase the level of sugar in the blood and also lead to hardening of the capillaries, which carry blood.
Maintaining a physically inactive schedule can lead you to both these diseases as well. Also, lifestyle factors such as obesity, smoking, and drinking put a person at risk of developing both these medical conditions.
If you have both diabetes as well as hypertension, all is not lost. There is still a way of controlling these conditions so that they do not have any adverse effects on your lifestyle.