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Which Comes First: Diabetes or High Blood Pressure?

  • Posted on: Aug 17 2022
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Why do people who have diabetes so often also have high blood pressure?

Even when you don’t know the exact meaning of a word, lots of times it can give itself away just by the sound of it. Or, it might contain part or all of a word that you are familiar with. “Comorbidity” is one of those words. Say it out loud and you will know right away that it’s not going to be about anything good. Plus, it contains the all-too-familiar “morbid”, which we know means something dark or disturbing.

When it comes to medical conditions, like diabetes and hypertension (ongoing high blood pressure), comorbidity refers to the presence of both conditions in an individual at the same time. They may have shown up at the same time or one soon followed by the other, and it is believed that they have some sort of influence over each other. This might mean that having one can make the other worse or it might mean that having one makes the development of the other more likely. 

Does High Blood Pressure Cause Diabetes or Does Diabetes Cause High Blood Pressure?

When someone asks if having diabetes can increase the likelihood of developing high blood pressure or if it’s high blood pressure that raises the risk of diabetes, the short answer is “yes”. 

An individual with diabetes is twice as likely to have blood pressure as someone who does not have diabetes. Elevated blood sugar levels cause damage to the linings of blood vessels, causing them to narrow. This encourages the accumulation of plaque, which leads to even more narrowing and makes it harder for blood to be pumped throughout the body. This leads to high blood pressure.

How high blood pressure leads to diabetes is less clear, but a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC) found that people with high blood pressure do have a greater risk of developing diabetes. They suggest that this may be due to the chronic inflammation and endothelial dysfunction (inability of the arteries to adequately dilate) that are typically associated with diabetes. 

Understanding the Link

While there may be a better chance of diagnosing one of these conditions as contributing to the development of the other in a particular individual, this may not be the right question to be asking. It may be more important to be aware of the common causes of these serious conditions, whether they occur together or alone. Some of the most common of these include:

  • aging
  • excess weight and body fat
  • inflammation
  • oxidative stress
  • poor diet
  • lack of adequate exercise
  • high-stress levels 
  • not getting enough quality sleep
  • smoking
  • low levels of vitamin D
  • heredity

Equally important to understand is that high blood pressure and diabetes increase the risk of developing even more serious issues, like heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, vision loss, and peripheral vascular disease.

At Cardiovascular Wellness, our mission is to provide outstanding, timely, and personalized care to all of our patients. We are committed to improving your quality of life by designing a comprehensive plan of heart care, individualized to your needs.

Information on locations and office hours for Cardiovascular Wellness can be found by clicking here

Posted in: Heart Disease, High Blood Pressure

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