Beware of “Shadow Diseases”

Some medical conditions tend to run in pairs, i.e. if you are suffering from one particular disease, for unknown reason the risk of getting another seemingly unrelated disease is higher than usual, and the second disease is known as “shadow disease”. Hence, if you are aware of the shadow diseases, you can take preventive measures to remain safer. Sometimes the shadow disease is more serious than the primary disease. Examples of shadow disease include, hypertension and diabetes, migraine headache and heart attack or stroke, metabolic syndrome and kidney disease etc.

The causes of a second disease or shadow disease are damage by primary disease, which leads to second disease, genetics, poor health habits such as lack of exercise, poor eating habit, smoking etc.

  1. Hypertension and its “shadow disease” diabetes:

The risk of getting diabetes is much higher among hypertensive individuals, although both are unrelated diseases. However, there are certain common risk factors present for both hypertension and diabetes, such as obesity, sedentary lifestyle, bad eating habit (excess animal fat and lack of fiber, vegetables and fruits). Recent studies are showing that hypertensive individuals, especially in case of uncontrolled hypertension, the risk of developing diabetes is double than normal.

How to protect yourself?

If you have high blood pressure, get your blood glucose checked. Treat hypertension optimally and maintain it within normal range as far as practicable. Lifestyle modifications, such as quitting smoking, increase physical activity and regular exercise, limit salt intake, reduce body weight (if obese) to normal (BMI of 18-25) and healthy eating can help reduce risk of hypertension as well as diabetes.

  1. Metabolic syndrome and its “shadow disease” kidney stones:

Metabolic syndrome is a group of medical conditions, that include diabetes, heart problems etc. and may lead to early death. Presence of at least three of the five traits (which are low HDL or good cholesterol, excess abdominal fat, high triglycerides, hypertension and IGT or impaired glucose tolerance) means you have metabolic syndrome. If you have metabolic syndrome the risk of kidney stone is higher by 70%, even without metabolic syndrome, presence of two traits of the syndrome increase the risk of kidney stone by more than 50%.

How to protect yourself?

The modifiable traits of metabolic syndrome (such as low HDL cholesterol, excess abdominal fat, high triglycerides, and hypertension) should be controlled. That is, if you are obese with excess abdominal fat, reduce body weight, control hypertension, reduce high triglycerides and improve HDL with appropriate medications. Reduce sodium intake and reduce your waistline. If the traits of metabolic syndrome can be controlled, the shadow disease can be prevented.

  1. Migraine and its “shadow disease” heart attack or stroke:

If you have moderate to severe migraine, you are at greater risk of getting heart attack or stroke. The more frequent the attacks of migraine, the greater is the risk of heart attack or stroke. If migraine headache appears every week, the risk of heart attack or stroke is 3 times than normal. Less than one attack of migraine in a month, the risk is approximately 50% more than normal.

How to protect yourself?

Unfortunately, there is no effective way to prevent risk of heart attack or stroke among migraine patients. However, effective management of migraine in combination with maintaining normal cardiovascular health can help in reducing risk of heart attack or stroke. Regular exercise, eating healthy diet with adequate fiber and nutrients, and avoiding of smoking and alcohol can help to great extent.

 

 

Image courtesy of phanlop88 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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