Studies indicate that most diabetics have at least one coexisting chronic condition (or comorbidities like hypertension, coronary heart diseases, obesity, arthritis, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, etc.) and approximately 40% have more than three of such comorbidities. As the number of these comorbidities increases, the risks of poor patient outcomes (which implies hospitalizations, adverse drug events, mortality etc.) and healthcare costs also increase.
Hypertension/High BP slows down diabetic treatments
The biggest risk amongst these conditions is hypertension or simply put high BP. Up to 75% of adults with diabetes have hypertension, with later often leading to insulin resistance, which is the driving factor that leads to type 2 diabetes. Explaining further, owing to insulin resistance, muscle, fat, and liver cells do not respond properly to insulin and thus cannot easily absorb glucose from the bloodstream.
As a result, the body needs higher levels of insulin to help glucose enter cells. Other major contributors to insulin resistance are excess weight and physical inactivity. These intertwined conditions increase the underlying risk factors including coronary artery disease, myocardial infarction, stroke, congestive heart failure, and peripheral vascular disease, retinopathy, nephropathy, neuropathy and sexual dysfunction.
Together, diabetes and high BP lead to increased risk of cardiovascular failure
The comorbidity of hypertension with diabetes leads to increase in the risk of cardio vascular diseases by 75%, which further contributes to the overall morbidity and mortality of the patient. These complications include coronary artery disease, myocardial infarction, congestive heart failure, stroke, peripheral vascular diseases, retinopathy, nephropathy, and neuropathy.
High BP also has a significant impact on the incidence and progression of cardiovascular events. For example, coexistence of hypertension and diabetes, aggravates above mentioned complications through additive mechanisms like arteriolar and capillary damage in retinal, renal, coronary, cerebral and peripheral vascularity. These accelerate the progression to target-organ renal failure.
The way out is lifestyle modification
But the bright side is that the risk of developing comorbidities can be reduced through lifestyle modification which includes:
- Weight management (loose the excess weight per your BMI analysis),
- Diet monitoring (adopt healthy meal plans),
- Stopping smoking and limiting alcohol intake,
- Ensuring physical activity (exercise for a minimum of 150 minutes a week), and
- Controlling blood sugar levels.