High Blood Pressure and Diabetes: What’s the Risk?
There’s been obvious for years that high blood pressure and diabetes often go together.
However, now a huge study has demonstrated a clear link between high blood pressure and diabetes. In fact, it found that having high blood pressure made people 58% more likely to go on to develop Type 2 diabetes.
Now, this doesn’t mean that high blood pressure can directly cause diabetes, but it certainly means that having high blood pressure puts you more at risk.
So what can you do about it? More on that below, but first the study.
New study of high blood pressure and diabetes
Researchers at Oxford University looked at the health records of 4.1 million people, “an electronic health record system, covering approximately 9% of the U.K.population”, according to the research paper. These people did not initially have diabetes, but those with high blood pressure were more likely to have developed diabetes by the time they were followed up (up to 11 years later).
And the higher their blood pressure, the greater the risk. For example, for every 20 point (20 mmHg) increase in usual systolic blood pressure, the risk of developing diabetes went up by 58%.
The researchers also put together and analysed 30 previous studies into high blood pressure and diabetes and found a similar pattern.
This connection between high blood pressure and diabetes was similar for men and women, old and young (those included in the study were between 30 and 90 years old), and was also similar for those with normal weight and the obese. (The increase in diabetes risk due to high blood pressure was less dramatic for older folk and those who’re most overweight, but they have a much higher risk of both high blood pressure and diabetes anyway.)
So, all in all, it looks like diabetes is definitely something to watch out for if you have high blood pressure – and you’re more likely to develop it the higher your blood pressure is.
Does high blood pressure itself increase your risk of diabetes?
Well, this is the big question.
According to the author of the study, Professor Kazem Rahimi, “We can’t say for certain that one causes the other, but this study helps to connect the dots, showing that if you have high blood pressure there is a significantly greater chance of developing diabetes.”
He continues: “At a minimum we know for certain that the link exists, but is high blood pressure a cause of diabetes or just a risk factor? We still don’t know.”
Or are there common underlying causes for both high blood pressure and diabetes?
It’s also possible that other health issues which are associated with high blood pressure could independently put you at more risk of diabetes.
For example, high blood pressure is associated with chronic inflammation in the body as well problems with the lining of the blood vessels (endothelial dysfunction). Both these factors not only make you more likely to develop high blood pressure (and obesity) but Professor Rahimi speculates that they may also put you more at risk of diabetes.
It’s useful to look at the factors which underlie all these health issues though. It’s already well known that having an unhealthy diet, not getting enough exercise and being chronically stressed make you more likely to develop both high blood pressure and diabetes (possibly because these also lead to chronic inflammation). So your lifestyle plays a huge role in your susceptibility to high blood pressure and diabetes.
How can you reduce high blood pressure and your risk of diabetes?
Well, one option is of course to get straight on high blood pressure-reducing medication. Professor Rahimi does mention this option in his publication (referring to specific types of blood pressure-reducing medication) but acknowledges that more research is needed to determine if it would be effective.
He also mentions that lifestyle changes, such as encouraging people to drink less alcohol and exercise more, could potentially reduce the amount of people developing diabetes.
Indeed, as mentioned above, things like eating unhealthily, drinking too much, not being active enough, and being stressed are well known to put you at greater risk of high blood pressure and diabetes, and worsen their associated symptoms and side-effects.
So lowering your blood pressure and your risk of diabetes is fairly simple. As Dr Richard Elliott, research communications manager at Diabetes UK, says: “We know that the best way to reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes is to maintain a healthy weight by eating a healthy balanced diet and taking part in regular physical activity.”
Lowering your blood pressure naturally like this will also mean you get to avoid the unpleasant side-effects that can often be associated with blood pressure-lowering medicines. And common sense tells us that it’s far more effective to deal with the underlying causes rather than just treating the symptoms.
Lower your blood pressure (and diabetes risk) naturally and effectively
OK, that’s all well and good, but what kinds of foods and drinks should you be going for? What’s the best (or easiest) way to get more exercise? And how can you find time to de-stress?
You can browse some of the other posts on this website for more information (see the ‘recent posts’ section or use the website search bar at the top left).
You can also have a look at our new guide for lowering your blood pressure naturally: Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally – The Complete 9 Step Guide
To keep it simple, it’s laid out in 9 steps. You just follow the advice for each step – take it a week at a time or a month at a time, whatever suits you – and you’ll be on your way to lower blood pressure and better health in general.
Not only is the guide easy to follow but it’s also enjoyable to follow, with lots of tasty food and drink suggestions, and useful tips and insights on lifestyle changes. Little things that – put together – can make a big difference.
Remember – whatever you do to lower your blood pressure will also lower your risk of diabetes.
And if you don’t have high blood pressure or diabetes and want to make sure you never do, then this guide will keep you on a healthy track.
To download a sample of the guide to your computer right now click here and scroll to the bottom of the page for the download link.
(Post by Alison)