Many seemingly unrelated long-term conditions have been found to be linked to diabetes. Learn about these related conditions of diabetes, and the risk factors associated with each.
Related Conditions of Diabetes: Metabolic Syndrome
Scientists have identified a group of metabolic factors that increase a person’s risk of developing diabetes and heart disease. Some of these factors include:
- Excessive abdominal fat: Waist circumference of 40 inches or more for men, and 35 inches or more for women
- Glucose intolerance or insulin resistance: Fasting glucose levels of 100 mg/dl or higher
- High blood pressure: 130/85 or higher
- High triglycerides: 150 mg/dl or higher
- Low HDL cholesterol: Less than 40 mg/dl in men, and less than 50 mg/dl in women.
Generally, if you have three or more of these related conditions of diabetes, you are considered to have metabolic syndrome. Managing metabolic syndrome can reduce your risk of diabetes and related conditions of diabetes, such as heart disease.
Hypertension and Diabetes
Hypertension (high blood pressure) is one of the conditions of metabolic syndrome, and increases your risk of developing diabetes. Specifically, there is a strong link between hypertension and diabetes — according to the For Your Diabetes Life website, up to 60 percent of people with diabetes have high blood pressure.
If you are diabetic, managing your blood pressure is just as important as controlling your blood sugar. Both the National Institutes of Health and the American Diabetes Association recommend that diabetics keep their blood pressure below 130/80.
Left untreated, the combination of hypertension and diabetes leads to increased risk of other long-term conditions such as:
- Heart disease
- Heart failure
- Peripheral artery disease
The link between hypertension and diabetes may also increase risk of many diabetes complications, such as diabetic eye disease and kidney disease.
Due to the connection between hypertension and diabetes, as well as the serious risks associated with high blood pressure, doctors may prescribe hypertension medication to diabetics as a precaution, even if they don’t suffer from the condition.
Triglycerides and Diabetes
Triglycerides are bundles of fat in the bloodstream that the body produces when breaking down fatty foods. Although a certain level of triglycerides is healthy (less than 150 mg/dl), there is a link between high levels of triglycerides and diabetes, heart disease and other conditions.
As with hypertension and diabetes, elevated triglycerides are a major risk factor for diabetes, as well as a complication when the disease is not managed properly. Aside from the link between triglycerides and diabetes, however, other causes of elevated levels of triglycerides include:
- Excess alcohol consumption
- Kidney disease
Certain medications may also raise your triglyceride levels.
Preventing and Reducing Conditions of Diabetes
Healthy lifestyle changes can reduce your risk of many related conditions of diabetes. In order to take charge of your health and avoid developing any long-term conditions, you should:
- Exercise regularly
- Limit fat, salt and sugar intake
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Not smoke.
If these measures aren’t enough, or you are at very high risk, your doctor may prescribe medication to prevent related conditions of diabetes.
American Diabetes Association. (n.d.). High blood pressure (hypertension). Retrieved April 9, 2010, from http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/complications/high-blood-pressure-hypertension.html.
American Heart Association. (2010). Metabolic syndrome. Retrieved April 7, 2010, from http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=4756.
Mayo Clinic. (2009). Type 1 diabetes: Treatment and drugs. Retrieved April 7, 2010, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/type-1-diabetes/DS00329/DSECTION=treatments-and-drugs.
Rondinelli, L. (2007). Sodium, diabetes and blood pressure. Retrieved April 9, 2010, from http://www.dlife.com/diabetes/information//inspiration_expert_advice/expert_columns/rondinelli_aug07.html.
Tannenberg, R. J. (2005). Type 2 diabetes and triglycerides. Retrieved April 7, 2010, from http://www.diabeteshealth.com/read/2005/06/01/4294/type-2-diabetes-and-triglycerides/.