As any diabetic will tell you, there are a whole host of complications associated with having diabetes. A lot of these complications become more and more prevalent the longer you have the disease and the older you become.
Does diabetes cause high blood pressure or is it possible that high blood pressure causes diabetes? The fact of the matter is that over 80% of people with type 2 diabetes have high blood pressure so there is a definite link. The one thing that we know for sure is that having a combination of the two is very dangerous and something that needs to be monitored by yourself and your health care team very closely.
High blood pressure is a silent killer
High blood pressure can have very few if any symptoms, that is why it is known as a silent killer. It is vital that you have your blood pressure checked regularly by your doctor throughout the year. When you have high blood pressure it means that blood is pumping through your veins, heart and blood vessels too hard. This over time will tire the heart and may enlarge it. The lower you can get your blood pressure the better your chances of delaying or preventing a heart attack or stroke.
Unfortunately most diabetics will experience some form of high blood pressure in their lifetime. Having diabetes can lead to complications including diabetic eye disease, kidney disease as well as cardiovascular problems. Having high blood pressure makes those complications even more acute. To be brutally honest, having high blood pressure and diabetes makes the possibility of a heart attack or stroke a lot more realistic.
About 25% of all people with type 1 diabetes and 80% of people with Type 2 diabetes have high blood pressure. So does diabetes cause high blood pressure? There appears to be compelling evidence that suggests that it does.
Some symptoms to look out for
Although having high blood pressure can show few if any symptoms there are a few things to watch out for. They include –
- High anxiety levels or elevated levels of fear
- Unexplained nose bleeds
- Unexplained and regular headaches
- Irregular heart beats or heart problems
What is normal blood pressure for a diabetic?
Having normal blood pressure is as important as normal blood sugar levels when you are diabetic. Blood pressure measurements will always vary from person to person, however for a diabetic the reading should be no higher than 140/80. In non-diabetics a blood pressure reading of 140/90 is considered normal. The first number is the systolic pressure, it measures the pressure in the arteries when your heart beats and fills the arteries with blood. The second figure is the diastolic pressure that measures pressure in the arteries in between heart beats.
What are the benefits of lowering blood pressure?
There is now lots of medical evidence that suggest that controlling blood pressure in people with diabetes reduces the risk of future complications. In fact comprehensive studies have monitored people with diabetes over many years and found that those with well-controlled blood pressure had roughly a third less risk of dying from a heart attack or stroke compared to diabetics with high blood pressure. It has even been suggested that good control of blood pressure was more beneficial than good control of blood sugar levels!
What lifestyle changes can you make to treat high blood pressure
- Control you blood sugar levels. This is the whole point of this website. To limit future complications associated with having diabetes you must ensure that you manage your blood sugar levels as effectively as possible.
- Stop smoking. If you are still smoking and you are a diabetic then you must have a death wish. Explore options to stop ASAP. Please see my article on diabetes and smoking here.
- Eat a healthier diet. If you are struggling in the kitchen then I recommend you think about buying this ebook. Some of the healthiest, tastiest recipes are available here and it is written by a 5 star chef who is also a type 2 diabetic. Many people report their type 2 diabetes going into full remission after staying on this diet for a few short months.
- Lose some weight. Easier said than done for some I realise but there is no downside to losing a few excess pounds. There are a tonne of diet and exercise ideas on this blog. Start taking medication such as Metformin if need be. To read my article on Metformin and weight loss please go here.
- Watch your alcohol consumption. I love a drink but you need to be aware of the repercussions. Alcohol consumption is bad for blood pressure. Think how high your blood pressure goes with a hangover the next day. Please see my article on the best alcohol for diabetics here.
- There is no excuse to not exercising for a minimum of 30 minutes per day at least 5 days per week. It is all about forming a new habit. Your blood pressure and blood sugar levels will thank you. Here is an article on exercise programs for diabetics.
- Limit salt intake. I love salt on everything but you need to be mindful of what it does to your blood pressure.
Treatment with medication
If you have diabetes and you cannot maintain a blood pressure level beneath 140/80 then you are at high risk of a stroke or kidney or eye complications. At this stage it will be highly likely that your medical professional will put you on medication to lower your blood pressure. There are many different forms of medication and it will likely be decided by a range of factors including your age, your ethnicity and whether you have other medical issues.
One of the most common forms of blood pressure medication is called an ACE inhibitor. This form of medication lowers blood pressure and also prevents kidney damage. In some cases 2 or more medications maybe required to lower your blood pressure while preventing other complications associated with diabetes and high blood pressure.
You need to monitor your blood pressure regularly if you are a diabetic. It is known as the silent killer for the simple reason that it shows very few if any symptoms. By choosing a healthy lifestyle including proper diet and exercise as well as managing your weight then you will be able to live a life free of any complications associated with having diabetes.
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