Rising Blood Pressure Tied to Diabetes

A recent study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health shows that women with high blood pressures are most likely to develop type 2 diabetes. 

Diabetes is listed as number five as the top killer diseases in the US today. It is estimated that about 21 million children and adults have diabetes in the US. Of that number, about 9.7 million are women.

Unlike diabetes in males, the disease can have severe consequences in women. The fact that diabetes can affect an expecting mother and her unborn child makes it important that the disease be diagnosed early on. Almost a third of the people infected with diabetes don’t know that they have the disease.

And if previous studies were not hard enough for the women to bear, here comes a new study which indicates that hypertension is bad increases the risk of getting diabetes three fold. The study was published in the European Heart Journal in October 9, 2007.

The research involved monitoring the health of more than 38,000 female health professionals in a period of more than 10 years. The study began by dividing the women, who have no signs of diabetes or cardiovascular disease whatsoever, into four groups based on their blood pressure.

Women with blood pressures below 120 mm/Hg systolic, 75 mm/Hg diastolic belong to the optimal group; those with 120-129 mm/Hg systolic, 75-84 mm/Hg diastolic to the normal group; those with 130-139 mm/Hg systolic, 85-89 mm/Hg diastolic to the high-normal group; and those with at least 140 mm/Hg systolic, 90 mm/Hg diastolic, and/or a self-reported history of hypertension or treatment for the condition to the high blood pressure.

Ten years later, upon studying their health conditions, the researchers found out that 9.4 percent of the women in the high blood pressure group had developed type 2 diabetes. The percentage was high compared to the numbers in the other groups which were 5.7 percent of the women in the high-normal group, 2.9 percent in the normal group, and 1.4 percent in the optimal group developed type 2 diabetes.

To make their study more accurate, the research group took into consideration and adjusted accordingly for other factors such as age, smoking, exercise, body mass index, alcohol consumption, and family history of diabetes. But even making the adjustments, women with hypertension still came out as having high risks of getting diabetes.

With this study, high blood pressure is another condition that women should watch out for. Previous studies have indicated that pregnancy also increases the risk of developing diabetes. Called gestational diabetes, this form of diabetes develops during pregnancy but disappears after the baby is delivered.

However, it was found out that women who have had gestational diabetes or those who have given birth to a baby weighting more than 9 pounds have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes later on.

Also noteworthy are statistics that indicate that African American, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian, and Asian/Pacific Islander women are 2 to 4 times more likely to develop diabetes than white women. Moreover, as one gets older the risk for diabetes is also higher.