Can You Avoid a Pacemaker by Controlling Blood Pressure and Glucose Levels?

Risk from High Blood Pressure and High Glucose Levels

More and more people are becoming aware today about the various health risks they face and are actively changing their lifestyles to avoid chronic lifestyle diseases. High blood pressure and high glucose or blood sugar levels are two of the most common risk factors for heart disease and diabetes.(1,2,3,4,5) High blood pressure increases your heart’s workload, making it work overtime. It causes the heart muscle to thicken, and over time, it becomes stiffer.(6,7,8) This stiffening of your heart muscle can cause the heart to start functioning abnormally after some time. This also drastically increases the risk of a heart attack, stroke, congestive heart failure, arrhythmias, and kidney failure.(9,10)

On the other hand, if you have diabetes or prediabetes, then uncontrolled high blood glucose can cause significant damage to your blood vessels and the nerves that are responsible for controlling the heart and blood vessels. In fact, studies have shown that the longer you have diabetes and uncontrolled levels of blood sugar, the higher are the changes that you will develop heart disease.(11,12)

It has also been observed that people who have diabetes are also more likely to have other risk factors that increase their chance of developing heart disease. This includes high blood pressure or high cholesterol.

This is why it is so essential to control your blood glucose and blood pressure levels to prevent serious health problems in the future, such as a stroke and heart attack.

A new study has found that there could be another benefit of controlling your blood pressure and blood glucose. This includes preventing a common heart condition known as arrhythmia.

Can You Avoid a Pacemaker by Controlling Blood Pressure and Glucose Levels?

A study carried out by researchers from the US and Finland together and published in May 2019 has found that keeping your blood pressure and blood glucose levels under control can help prevent a heart condition known as arrhythmia.(13)

Arrhythmia, more commonly referred to as an irregular heartbeat, is a condition that causes a problem with the rhythm of the heartbeat. This means that your heart can beat too slowly, too quickly, or with an irregular rhythm.(14,15) Arrhythmia is usually treated with a pacemaker.(16)

The study involved over 6,000 participants in Finland who were over the age of 32 years. The researchers found that having higher fasting glucose and higher blood pressure were both associated with a type of arrhythmia known as atrioventricular (AV) block.(17)

An atrioventricular block is a type of heart condition in which the conduction of the electrical signals from the top chambers (atria) to the bottom chambers (ventricles) of the heart gets entirely or partially blocked. The condition can cause symptoms such as fainting, dizziness, chest pain, fatigue, and shortness of breath.

It is important to note, though, that the study does not claim that people who already have this condition can treat atrioventricular block with exercise and diet.

This is because the atrioventricular block is not a chronic condition that can be managed with controlling your diet, exercising, or any other lifestyle changes. However, this does not mean that people with this condition do not need treatment. The severity of the atrioventricular block determines whether a person needs treatment, which usually involves having a pacemaker implanted. A pacemaker is a small device that helps your heartbeat regularly. It does this by sending a small electric stimulation to help control the heartbeat. A pacemaker is put in under the skin on the chest, just beneath your collarbone. The machine is hooked up to your heart with small wires.(18,19)

However, high blood glucose and high blood pressure are some of the most common risk factors for many heart-related problems, including a heart attack, stroke, coronary artery disease, and a type of arrhythmia called atrial fibrillation.(20)

Cardiologists and general physicians make it a habit to routinely educate patients about managing risk factors such as blood pressure and blood glucose to reduce the risk of heart and circulation problems.

The study carried out in Finland has provided a much-needed impetus to both counsel and treat and educate patients about reducing their risks of developing heart arrhythmias and other heart problems.

The research identified several factors that are linked to a greater risk of developing an atrioventricular block, including higher systolic blood pressure, higher fasting glucose, older age, history of heart attack or congestive heart failure, and being male. The study found that out of the participants, 47 percent of all atrioventricular block cases were caused by higher systolic blood pressure, while 11 percent were due to elevated blood glucose levels.

While this was just an observational study, the results have definitely become a starting point for additional research to establish a link between blood glucose levels, blood pressure, and heart arrhythmias.

Conclusion

It is estimated that there are nearly three million people worldwide who have pacemakers, and 600,000 pacemakers get implanted every year. (21) One of the primary reasons people need a pacemaker is some type of arrhythmia, including the atrioventricular block.

While not all types of the atrioventricular block need to be treated, but in severe cases, pacemaker implantation is believed to be the best treatment.

The risk of an atrioventricular block can be reduced by following a healthy lifestyle. If you are at a higher risk of heart conditions, then it is recommended that you start eating healthier, quit smoking, exercise regularly, and make other such healthy changes before blood pressure and high blood glucose cause damage to your heart tissue.

References:

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