Does Diabetes Cause High Blood Pressure?

By Arielle Mitton
Medically reviewed checkmarkMedically reviewed
October 17, 2022

High blood pressure and type 2 diabetes are common conditions worldwide. It’s estimated that type 2 diabetes affects around 415 million people and that diabetes affects 1.39 billion. Unfortunately, both conditions carry significant health risks, including an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and death. 

In this article, we’ll explore the connection between diabetes and high blood pressure. We’ll also discuss the risks, symptoms, prevention, and treatment of both conditions.

Can Diabetes Cause High Blood Pressure?

Yes, type 2 diabetes can lead to the development of high blood pressure. Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic condition marked by insulin resistance and high glucose, or blood sugar, levels. Over time, high blood sugar can damage the blood vessels and artery walls and increase the force of blood that travels through your arteries, causing high blood pressure.   

Increased risk

People with type 2 diabetes are twice as likely to develop high blood pressure than people without type 2 diabetes. Having both type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure significantly increases your risk for heart disease, heart attack, heart failure, and stroke. Having high blood pressure also increases the risk of vascular complications of diabetes, including:

  • Increased formation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs)
  • Oxidative stress
  • Inflammation

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Complications

There are many possible complications of both type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. Shared complications include:

  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)
  • Endothelial dysfunction
  • Vascular inflammation
  • Vascular fibrosis
  • Arterial remodeling
  • Kidney damage or disease
  • Eye problems
  • Memory problems and dementia

What’s the Connection?

Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure are common conditions that increase the risk of developing heart disease. They’re connected by common risk factors, complications, and mechanisms.

Risk Factors of High Blood Pressure and Diabetes

Anyone can develop high blood pressure or type 2 diabetes, but some common risk factors for both conditions include:

  • Age (older individuals are at higher risk)
  • Family history
  • Overweight or obesity
  • Physical inactivity
  • Race (African Americans are at a higher risk)

Additionally, having high blood pressure increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and vice versa.

Symptoms of High Blood Pressure and Diabetes

High blood pressure is often called a “silent killer” because most people with the condition don’t experience symptoms. It can remain undetected in individuals for many years, making treatment and management more difficult. In rare cases, people with high blood pressure may experience a pounding feeling in their chest or head, lightheadedness, or dizziness

Unlike high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes causes symptoms in most people. The most common ones include:

  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Increased hunger
  • Blurry vision
  • Skin changes or rashes
  • Sores that heal slowly
  • Numbness or tingling sensation in the hands or feet
  • Fatigue
  • Erectile dysfunction (in people with penises)
  • Retrograde ejaculation (in people with penises)
  • Low testosterone (in people with penises)
  • Low sex drive (in people with penises)

Preventing High Blood Pressure and Diabetes

It’s not always possible to prevent high blood pressure or type 2 diabetes, especially if you have a family history of one or both conditions. However, some lifestyle factors can help to prevent the development of these conditions, including:

  • Healthy diet: Eat a diet that’s rich in fiber, fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins and low in sodium. Limiting total intake of refined carbohydrates may also help to reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes.  
  • Regular exercise: Aim to get at least two and a half hours of moderate-intensity exercise (such as walking or bicycling) per week.
  • Maintain a healthy weight: If your BMI is considered overweight or obese, talk to your healthcare provider about strategies for safe and sustainable weight management.
  • Don’t smoke: If you use cigarettes or other tobacco products, talk to your healthcare provider about ways to quit.

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Treatment

Many of the lifestyle modifications used to prevent these conditions can also help to manage them, including:

  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Getting regular, physical activity
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Quitting smoking

In some cases, your provider may also recommend taking medication. Some medications used to lower and control blood pressure levels include:

  • Thiazide diuretics
  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
  • Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs)

Medications used to treat type 2 diabetes include:

  • Alpha glucosidase inhibitors
  • Biguanides (including Metformin)
  • Dopamine agonist
  • Dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP-4) inhibitors
  • Glucagon-like peptide 1 receptor agonists (GLP-1s)
  • Meglitinides
  • Sodium-glucose transporter (SGLT) 2 inhibitors
  • Sulfonylureas
  • Thiazolidinediones

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Frequently Asked Questions

Does diabetes cause blood pressure to increase?
Type 2 diabetes can lead to damage of the arteries and blood vessels, which can cause high blood pressure. In fact, people with type 2 diabetes are twice as likely to develop high blood pressure than people without type 2 diabetes.
What is normal blood pressure for diabetics?
Diabetics should aim for a blood pressure reading below 140/90 mm Hg.
Are blood pressure and blood sugar related?
High blood pressure (also called hypertension) and high blood sugar (which occurs in people with type 2 diabetes) are closely related. Both conditions share similar risk factors, complications, and mechanisms. Having one condition puts you at higher risk for developing the other, and having both conditions greatly increases your risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

Arielle Mitton

Dr. Mitton is a board certified internal medicine physician with over 6 years of experience in urgent care and additional training in geriatric medicine. She completed her trainings at Mount Sinai Hospital and UCLA. She is on the board of the Hyperemesis Research Foundation to help women suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum.