The evidence is in. Blood pressure control in people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes is just as important as blood glucose control. High blood glucose (diabetes) and high blood pressure often go hand in hand. Sixty to sixty five percent of people who have diabetes also have high blood pressure. Maintaining blood pressure, at a level or below 130/80, can help prevent or slow down the progression of several common long-term diabetes problems, including heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and loss of vision.
What steps can you take?
Get your blood pressure checked at every medical visit. Make sure it is below 130/80. If your blood pressure is higher than 130/80, talk with your healthcare provider about which of the following steps might help you lower your blood pressure:
- Get to or stay at a healthy weight.
- Make changes in your eating plan – at least six servings of whole grains a day, at least two servings of fat-free or low-fat dairy foods high in calcium (i.e. milk and yogurt), or five servings of fruits and vegetables a day
- Reduce the amount of sodium you use and eat. If you drink alcohol, reduce the amount you drink.
- Be active – try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise in a day, five times a week.
- Don’t smoke, or quit smoking if you smoke. Put the steps that make sense for you into action. Then, if your blood pressure stays high after you have made some changes, ask your healthcare provider if you need to take a blood pressure medicine. Ace inhibitor is one of the common types of medicines recommended for people with diabetes.
What’s the connection between type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure?
Today, experts believe that people with type 2 diabetes have a higher risk of getting high blood pressure. This is due to relatively high amounts of insulin in their body, and the inability to use that insulin effectively, which is called insulin resistance. This situation causes high blood pressure. It is well known that people with type 2 diabetes who are overweight, inactive and/or unhealthy are more likely to have high blood pressure. It is also well-known that if people with type 2 diabetes eat more vegetables, fish, whole grains, and low-fat dairy foods, as well as become more active and lose a few pounds, they can lower their blood pressure.
Know your blood pressure. High blood pressure often has no signs or symptoms. The only way to find out if you have high blood pressure is to have it checked.
Tips for accurate blood pressure readings
- Do not drink coffee or smoke 30 minutes before you get your blood pressure checked.
- Sit for five minutes with your back supported and your feet flat on the ground while resting your arm on a table at the level of your heart.
- Wear short sleeves or be able to pull up your clothes so your arm is exposed.
- Go to the bathroom to empty your bladder first. A full bladder can impact the reading.
- Ask the person taking your blood pressure to take two readings. These should be done at least two minutes apart. Take an average of the result.