What are some comorbidities of type 2 diabetes?

Diabetes mellitus type 2 (T2DM) is the most common form of diabetes. In this form of the condition, the body does not respond as expected to the hormone insulin. This raises blood sugar levels, which can damage the body and lead to the development of additional chronic conditions or co-morbidities.

If a person cannot manage their T2DM properly, it can lead to other health problems and diseases. When a person has two or more conditions at the same time, a doctor may refer to them as: comorbidities

According to an study 2019, nearly 75% of people with T2DM had at least one comorbidity during their diagnosis, and 44% had at least two. A 2021 cross-sectional study found that the prevalence of comorbidities in people with T2DM was 93.7% more than 8 years. In addition, the study notes that the risk of co-morbidities increases with age.

In this article, we will explore some of the comorbidities of T2DM, how a person can prevent T2DM or co-morbidities from developing, and how to treat the condition.

Obesity is a common situation in the United States. It refers to when a person is overweight or has body fat that can affect their health. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), almost 3 into 4 adults in the US over the age of 20 are overweight or obese. Obesity often runs in families, which often have similar diet and exercise habits.

There is a close association between obesity and T2DM. There is evidence that 90% of adults with T2DM are overweight or obese.

Some Research suggests that the link between obesity and T2DM may be associated with high lipid levels that impair the function of the pancreas, causing it to produce less insulin. Alternatively, the body can also develop insulin resistance due to the elevated lipid levels. However, this relationship is complex and requires further investigation.

Obesity is a modifiable risk factor, which means that a person can manage and prevent this condition. A nutritious diet and regular exercise can help reduce the risk of obesity in most people.

Dyslipidemia is the imbalance of fats known as lipids. Among which:

Specifically, dyslipidemia in T2DM usually presents with:

  • elevated plasma triglycerides
  • low HDL
  • high LDL

According to a 2021 cross-sectional study, just over 32% of individuals with T2DM had high cholesterol, while 57.7% of patients had high LDL. Dyslipidemia is also one of the leading causes of cardiovascular disease in people with T2DM.

Hypertension occurs when the blood in the body with a higher pressure than usual. Most people will not know they have hypertension unless a medical professional checks their blood pressure.

Insulin resistance can cause type 2 diabetes, and the resulting high blood sugars can damage blood vessels. This creates resistance in the arteries increases and body fluid volume increases. This causes a rise in blood pressure to meet the demands of the body.

According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), 2 in 3 people with diabetes will either report having elevated blood pressure or taking medications to lower their blood pressure. Similarly, a 2019 cohort study found that: 85.1% of the people with T2DM had hypertension.

Click here for more information about diabetes and hypertension.

Because T2DM can strain the blood vessels and nerves that control the heart, it’s May lead to heart disease over time. Fatty deposits can develop in the artery walls of the heart and result in increased blood pressure and the arteries hardening

About 30% of people with T2DM have heart disease. A person with T2DM is twice have a greater chance of developing heart disease or having a stroke compared to someone without diabetes. In addition, their chance of developing heart disease increases the longer they have diabetes.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a person with T2DM is more likely to have heart failure. This is where the heart cannot pump blood as efficiently and can lead to other consequences such as swelling in the legs, fluid buildup in the lungs and difficulty breathing.

Cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attacks and strokes, are also the leading cause of death in people with diabetes.

The primary role of the kidneys is to filter waste and extra water from the body. They also help regulate blood pressure and release hormones.

In T2DM, a high blood sugar level causes injury to the blood vessels of the kidneys, affecting their function. However, most people with kidney disease have no symptoms. According to the National Kidney Foundation, T2DM is the leading cause of kidney failure.

Click here to learn more about preventing kidney damage from diabetes.

Due to the many requirements of T2DM management, such as blood sugar monitoring, insulin dosing, and meal planning, a person may experience psychological complications like

According to the CDC, people with diabetes are: 2-3 times more likely to have depression than people without diabetes. The CDC also notes that only 25-50% of individuals who have diabetes and develop depression actually receive a diagnosis and treatment.

Click here to learn more about how diabetes can affect mental health.

Sleep disorder affects between 42% and 76.8% of people with T2DM. Uncontrolled Blood Sugar Levels may result in people with T2DM, waking up more often and having to urinate more often during the night. In addition, the associated depression with T2DM may also contribute to the risk of developing sleep disorders.

Common sleep disturbances that a person with T2DM may experience may include:

  • Restless Legs Syndrome This is where a person may experience uncomfortable sensations in the leg, resulting in an irresistible urge to move them.
  • sleep apnea This condition causes a person’s breathing to stop and restart frequently during sleep.
  • Insomnia This condition occurs when a person has trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or getting good quality sleep.

Click here for more information about diabetes and sleep.

There is a link between T2DM and the chance of developing some types of cancer, including:

Researchers believe that a combination of factors may increase the risk of cancer development in people with T2DM, including insulin resistance, inflammation and overstimulated cell growth.

There are some things a person with T2DM can do to prevent comorbidities and manage their condition. Someone who has prediabetes could prevent or delay T2DM. A person with T2DM may also use techniques to prevent the onset of comorbidities. Prevention techniques may include:

  • participating in a diabetes prevention program, which can reduce their risk of developing T2DM by 58% over 3 years
  • participate in more physical activity
  • following a nutritious diet with a focus on whole grains, nuts, legumes, fruits and vegetables
  • quit smoking
  • lose weight

A person with T2DM should also adhere to the treatment plans they discuss with their medical professional to ensure their condition is well managed. For example, a doctor may prescribe metformin to someone with T2DM to control their blood sugar levels.

The ADA has a Living with Type 2 Diabetes program that can help people with T2DM learn more about their condition and how to manage it.

Click here to learn more about preventing complications from T2DM.

T2DM is a form of diabetes that results from the body not typically responding to insulin. This raises blood sugar levels, which can affect the rest of the body. This can result in the development of another chronic condition. When a person has two or more chronic conditions, a doctor may call these conditions comorbid.

A person with T2DM is more likely to develop co-morbidities such as heart disease, sleep disorders, cancer, obesity, dyslipidemia, and hypertension. Someone with T2DM can reduce their chances of developing co-morbidities through several methods, including dietary changes, increased exercise, following their treatment plan, and managing their weight.

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