Diabetes and High Blood Pressure:
What is high blood pressure?As your heart pumps blood throughout your body it has to exert some force to push the blood to all parts, especially your feet and hands, which are furthest from your heart. Blood pressure is the force of that blood flow that takes place inside your blood vessels. When it is too strong, it can cause a number of potential problems, such as raising your risk of heart attack, stroke, eye problems,, and kidney disease. You are at increased risk for all of these health complications just by having diabetes. The presence of high blood pressure raises the risk of these health problems even more. So, you want to learn all you can about how to manage your blood pressure.
How is blood pressure measured?You’ve no doubt had your blood pressure taken on several occasions and you may recall that two numbers are typically used to determine your blood pressure. Typically is it reported as one number “over” the other. For example, a blood pressure result may be stated as 130 over 80 (130/80). The first number always represents the pressure that is exerted when your heart beats to push the blood through the blood vessels. This is the pressure of your heart at work. It is called the systolic pressure. The second number represents the pressure in the blood vessels in between heartbeats, when the vessels are relaxed. This is referred to as the diastolic pressure. The easy way to remember the two is to associate the first letter of each term with this formula: the Systolic number “Sits on top” or comes first and the Diastolic number is “Down” below or comes second.
What should my blood pressure be with diabetes?Because there are several health complications that can result from the combination of diabetes and high blood pressure, those with diabetes have a lower target than the general public. The American Diabetes Association recommends that your systolic pressure be no more than 130 and your diastolic pressure no more than 80 (130/80). It has been shown that those with diabetes who can consistently keep their blood pressure below this threshold may be able to reduce their risk of the health problems mentioned.
What are the symptoms of high blood pressure?Unfortunately, most people with high blood pressure don’t know it because there are no noticeable symptoms. That is why it is often referred to as the “silent condition.” The absence of symptoms makes it especially important that you have your blood pressure checked at every office visit to your doctor or at least 4 times a year.
What can I do to control my blood pressure?Fortunately, there are several ways you can help to control your blood pressure. These include:
- Be mindful of your food choices. Eating a low-fat diet that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meats is a great start. In addition, limit your salt intake and substitute with a variety herbs to enhance the flavor of foods.
- Manage your weight. If you need to lose weight, do so gradually by reducing the number of calories, eating low-fat foods and working regular exercise into your routine.
- If you smoke, stop. Smoking greatly increases your risk of heart disease, stroke, and a host of other health problems.
- Blood pressure medications. There are several types of medications that can help lower blood pressure. Some of these medications, such as ACE inhibitors and ARBs work by keeping your blood vessels relaxed. Another category of blood pressure medicines, referred to as beta blockers, relax your heart and allow it to beat slower with less force. If you are a candidate for blood pressure medication, your doctor will prescribe the one best suited for your health condition.
American Diabetes Association. "High Blood Pressure (Hypertension).”