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Diabetes & High Blood Pressure

Controlling blood pressure in people with diabetes is especially important because high blood pressure is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease and increases the risk for heart attack, stroke and other complications such as retinopathy (damage to blood vessels in the retina) and nephropathy (damage to blood vessels in the kidneys).

What is Blood Pressure?

Blood pressure is the force of blood against the arteries when the heart beats (systolic pressure) and rests (diastolic pressure). It's measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). Learn more about how high blood pressure develops and its causes.

What's Normal Blood Pressure?

American Heart Association recommendations:

Blood Pressure Category

Systolic (mm Hg)

Diastolic (mm Hg)

Normal

Less than 120 and Less than 80
Prehypertension 120-139 or 80-89
High

 

 

Stage 1

140-159

90-99

Stage 2

160 or higher or

100 or higher

How do I know if I have High Blood Pressure?

You probably won't. Even when your blood pressure is chronically high, you won't have symptoms. In fact, many people have this disease for years without knowing it.

Many people falsely believe that high blood pressure has to do with being tense, nervous or hyperactive. You can be a calm, relaxed person and still have high blood pressure.

The only way to find out if you have it is to have your blood pressure checked! A blood pressure test is quick and painless. It can be done in a doctor's office, hospital clinic, school, nurse's office, company clinic or at a health fair.

Why is it Important to Treat High Blood Pressure?

High blood pressure increases the risk of coronary heart disease (which leads to heart attack) and stroke, especially when it's present with other risk factors, such as diabetes. When a person has high blood pressure and diabetes, a common combination, their risk for cardiovascular disease doubles.

What Can I Do?

There's no cure for high blood pressure. But it can be controlled. If you have diabetes and high blood pressure, work with your physician to get your blood pressure below 130/80. Weight control, regular physical activity and diet help lower blood pressure and manage cholesterol and glycemia (the presence of glucose in the blood). When you talk to your healthcare provider, he or she may discuss several options for treatment including:

Losing weight if you're overweight.

  • Eating a healthy diet low in saturated fat, cholesterol and salt.

  • Being more physically active.

  • Limiting alcohol to no more than one drink per day for women or two drinks a day for men.

  • Taking medications

Risk Factors of High Blood Pressure

Many of the 1.4million people in the U.K. with Diabetes also have high blood pressure. Between 35 and 75% of all diabetes complications are caused by high blood pressure.

Age. The older you are, the more likely you are to develop high blood pressure.

Gender. In the early and middle adult years, more men have high blood pressure than women. But more women after menopause have high blood pressure than men of the same age.

Overweight. Being overweight can make you two to six times more likely to develop high blood pressure. And, 90% of people with type 2 diabetes are overweight.

Heredity. Some families are more likely to get high blood pressure than others. If your parents or grandparents have or had high blood pressure, you are at a higher risk.

Medications. Some over-the-counter medications can raise blood pressure, such as ibuprofen, cold medicine, appetite suppressants, and some medications used to treat depression.

How Do I Know if I Have High Blood Pressure?

High blood pressure usually has no symptoms. In fact, many people have this disease for years without knowing it. Having high blood pressure (hypertension) doesn't mean you're tense, nervous or hyperactive. You can be a calm, relaxed person and still have hypertension. The only way to find out if you have this disease is to have your blood pressure checked! A blood pressure test is quick and painless. It can be done in a doctor's office, hospital clinic, school, nurse's office, company clinic or at a health fair.

A single high reading doesn't mean you have high blood pressure, but it's a sign that you need to watch your blood pressure carefully. If your blood pressure is normal, get it checked at least every two years. If you have prehypertension, or if you have a family history of high blood pressure, you're at higher risk. Your doctor will tell you how often to have it checked.

How is Blood Pressure Checked?

Blood pressure is measured using a medical instrument called a sphygmomanometer. A rubber cuff is wrapped around your upper arm and inflated. When the cuff is inflated, it compresses a large artery in your arm, momentarily stopping the blood flow.

Next, air in the cuff is released, and the person measuring the blood pressure listens with a stethoscope. When the blood starts to pulse through the artery, it makes a sound. Sounds continue to be heard until pressure in the artery exceeds the pressure in the cuff.

The person listens and watches the gauge, then records two measurements. Systolic pressure is the pressure of the blood flow when the heart beats (the pressure when the first sound is heard). Diastolic pressure is the pressure between heartbeats (the pressure when the last sound is heard). Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury, which is abbreviated mm Hg.

Do Blood Pressure Cuffs Come in Different Sizes?

Yes.  Children and adults with smaller or larger than average-sized arms may need special-sized cuffs. These are available in some pharmacies and from medical supply companies. They may also be ordered directly from companies that sell blood pressure cuffs. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for help.

Prevention of High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure can be cured, and even though it can usually be controlled, it's far better not to develop it at all. You can reduce your chances of developing high blood pressure by doing the following:

Maintain A Healthy Weight. As your body weight increases, so does your blood pressure. Being overweight can make you two to six times more likely to develop high blood pressure.

Be Physically Active. People who are physically active have a 20 to 50 percent lower risk of developing high blood pressure than people who are not active. Aerobic exercises such as walking, jogging, bicycling, and swimming are best.

Choose Foods Lower In Salt And Sodium. Cutting back on salt and sodium prevents blood pressure from rising. No one should eat more than about 6 grams of salt a day, which equals about 2,400 milligrams of sodium, or about 1 teaspoon of table salt.

Drink Alcohol In Moderation Or Not At All. Drinking too much alcohol can lead to high blood pressure. It's best to have no more than two alcoholic drinks a day.

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