Does High Blood Pressure Cause Diabetes?

By Paul Bright

  • Overview

    Diabetes is not often alone. It is sometimes diagnosed in conjunction with heart-related issues such as coronary artery disease and high blood pressure. Although diabetes and high blood pressure are paired together 60 percent of the time, can high blood pressure be the cause of a diabetes diagnosis? This article will explain their relation and answer that question.
  • Diabetes

    Diabetes is diagnosed when a person's body has the inability to control glucose in a certain way. For Type 1 diabetics, the body does not produce insulin, a chemical necessary to convert glucose into energy. Type 2 diabetics either do not produce enough insulin or the insulin is rejected by the body's cells. No specific cause has been identified as the root of diabetes; however, contributing factors have been identified. Obesity, bad cholesterol levels and poor diet are identified as risk factors for diabetes. So is hypertension, also known as high blood pressure.
  • Hypertension

    High blood pressure is identified when the force of arteries is beyond the normal level. The normal level of a beating heart (systolic pressure) is less than 120 millimeters of mercury, or mm Hg. The diastolic pressure, or resting heart rate, should be less than 80. The reading is usually stated with the systolic number expressed "over" the diastolic number. A person can be diagnosed with pre-hypertension with a systolic rate between 120 to 139 over 80 to 89. Stage 1 high blood pressure is a reading of 140 to 159 over 90 to 99, while stage 2 high blood pressure is 160 or higher over 100 or higher. Although there are a number of possible causes for high blood pressure, some identified, controllable contributing factors include obesity, smoking, regular exercise and a healthy diet.


  • The Relation

    Diabetes and high blood pressure have obesity as a common contributing factor. However, high blood pressure is not the cause of diabetes. It does complicate the lives of diabetics. High blood pressure can happen if the artery walls are hardened from plaque and fatty deposits. It can also cause damage and swelling of artery walls, narrowing the blood stream. Fatty deposits and thin or slow blood flow make it tough for cells to receive insulin that is either naturally produced by the liver or introduced into the blood stream by injection. Cells must have special receptors on them exposed to the bloodstream in order to get this insulin; if the receptors are blocked by fatty build-up, the cells will not receive insulin. Glucose does not get produced; the body then does not get the energy it needs. This can be very detrimental to diabetics who have a tough enough time getting insulin into the cells.
  • Medical Treatment

    Treating patients with diabetes and high blood pressure is typically done with medication. Thiazide diuretics and ACE inhibitors are often prescribed to people with both diseases. Beta blockers are also sometimes prescribed, but they have a tendency to mask hypoglycemic symptoms in diabetics. See the Resources section below for medical trial information related to diabetic and hypertension diagnosis.
  • Diet and Exercise

    There are no specific foods that lower "bad" HDL cholesterol, but good cholesterol removes the bad from the artery walls. Blood pressure can be lowered through regular exercise and making positive dietary changes that involve increasing the "good" LDL cholesterol. This is done by eating regular servings of fruit, consuming omega-3 fatty acids and other LDL-rich foods. Regular exercise also encourages strengthening of the arteries because the liver produces more LDL cholesterol.
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