Chronic Condition Management, Health Systems | By | 06/07/18 | 3 Minute Read

4 Common Comorbidities of Diabetes

Over a hundred million people in the U.S. are living with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes. And chances are those living with this condition are juggling other major health concerns too. These related conditions are known as comorbidities, which are diseases or medical conditions that coexist with primary diseases, but also stand as their own specific disease. According to the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, most adults with diabetes have at least one comorbid chronic disease and as many as 40% have at least three.

Here are 4 common comorbidities related to diabetes, and suggested ways to manage them:

Heart disease: Over time, high blood glucose from diabetes can damage your blood vessels and the nerves that control your heart and blood vessels. And the longer you have diabetes, the higher the chances that you will develop heart disease. It turns out that adults with diabetes are nearly twice as likely to die from heart disease or stroke as people without diabetes. In adults with diabetes, the most common causes of death are heart disease and stroke.

Stroke: A stroke occurs when there is damage to the brain from an interruption of its blood supply. As mentioned above, diabetes can have a negative impact on blood vessels, and ultimately, can result in blood-related conditions, like stroke. As stated, stroke is the most common cause of death for adults with diabetes, along with heart disease. To try to help prevent both heart disease and stroke risk, it is important to keep a close watch on A1C (the amount of hemoglobin in the blood that has glucose attached to it), cholesterol and blood pressure levels, as well as make healthy lifestyle and dietary choices, including avoiding smoking.

Hypertension: This study shows that up to 75% of adults with diabetes also have hypertension (high blood pressure) and patients with hypertension alone often show signs of insulin resistance. The same study explains that the initial approach to managing both diabetes and hypertension must emphasize weight control, physical activity, and dietary changes. And most patients require specific medications to achieve optimal hypertension and diabetes management.

Depression: Diabetes and depression occur together about twice as frequently as would be predicted by chance alone. This in part can be due to the burden and stress of managing the condition on a day-to-day, but can also be attributed to behavioral factors, such as sleep disturbances, inactive lifestyles, poor diet, and more. Unfortunately, barely 40% of the top institutions in the U.S. treating patients with diabetes said they had behavioral health support integrated into their practice. There is ample room for improvement on the focus of depression as it relates to diabetes, and the support and attention to mental health could ultimately help the patient cope with their condition and manage it more effectively.

This article is not intended to substitute for informed medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.

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