The link between diabetes and blood pressure:
High blood pressure is twice as likely to strike a person with diabetes than a person without diabetes. Left untreated, high blood pressure can lead to increased risk for heart disease and stroke. In fact, a person with diabetes and high blood pressure is four times as likely to develop heart disease than someone who does not have either of the conditions. About 73 percent of adults with diabetes have blood pressure greater than or equal to 130/80 mm Hg or use prescription medications for hypertension.
What is high blood pressure?
Blood pressure is the force of the blood pushing against the artery walls. Each time the heart beats, it is pumping blood into these arteries - resulting in the highest blood pressure when the heart contracts and is pumping the blood. High blood pressure, or hypertension, directly increases the risk of coronary heart disease (heart attack) and stroke (brain attack). With high blood pressure, the arteries may have an increased resistance against the flow of blood, causing the heart to pump harder to circulate the blood.
Two numbers are used to measure blood pressure. The higher number, the systolic pressure, refers to the pressure inside the artery when the heart contracts and is pumping the blood through the body. The lower number, the diastolic pressure, refers to the pressure inside the artery when the heart is at rest and is filling with blood. Both the systolic and diastolic pressures are recorded as "mm Hg" (millimeters of mercury). This recording represents how high the mercury column is raised by the pressure of your blood.
According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), high blood pressure for adults is defined as:
-140 mm Hg or greater systolic pressure
-90 mm Hg or greater diastolic pressure
In an update of NHLBI guidelines for hypertension in 2003, a new blood pressure category was added called prehypertension:
-120 mm Hg – 139 mm Hg systolic pressure
-80 mm Hg – 89 mm Hg diastolic pressure
The new NHLBI guidelines now define normal blood pressure as follows:
-Less than 120 mm Hg systolic pressure
-Less than 80 mm Hg diastolic pressure
What are the symptoms of high blood pressure?
Often, persons with high blood pressure do not have noticeable symptoms. If the blood pressure is greatly elevated, an individual may experience the following. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently.
Symptoms may include:
The symptoms of high blood pressure may resemble other medical conditions or problems. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis.
To help prevent the onset of high blood pressure:
-Reduce salt intake.
-Learn to relax.
-Maintain a reasonable weight.
-Consume alcohol in moderation.
-Monitor blood pressure.
Uncontrolled high blood pressure can be harmful to your body and can:
-damage the walls of your arteries, possibly causing tears or bulges (aneurysms) in the arteries of the brain, heart, kidneys, abdomen, legs and eyes
-speed up hardening of your arteries
-lead to an enlarged heart and heart failure.
Artery damage and hardening of the arteries can cause:
-heart disease and heart attacks
-loss of eye sight
-reduced blood supply to the brain
Is there anything I can do to lower my blood pressure?
If your doctor prescribes medication for your high blood pressure, make sure you take it as directed. Don't skip or increase a dose or stop taking your medication without checking with your doctor first.
A healthy lifestyle is important for anyone with hypertension. Some tips for a healthy lifestyle include:
-Stop using products containing nicotine, such as cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, chewing tobacco, snuff and nicotine-containing gum.
-Reduce your exposure to second-hand smoke.
-Limit your alcohol intake to no more than two standard drinks per day for men, and one drink for women.
-Spend time on things you enjoy doing and being with people you like being with.
-Manage the stress in your life by figuring out what situations make you feel stressed and find ways to avoid these situations.
-Maintain a healthy weight by eating healthy foods and enjoying physical activity most days of the week. If you're overweight, losing 8-10 pounds can significantly reduce blood pressure.
Should I be eating certain foods to control my blood pressure?
The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension)eating plan is the most often-used dietary method of reducing high blood pressure. Using DASH, your overall diet should be rich in nutrients including potassium, calcium, magnesium and fibre, while being low in sodium, saturated fat and total fat.
This eating plan suggests that you:
-enjoy at least 5 servings of fruit and vegetables every day
-choose at least 2 servings of lower-fat dairy products each day
-choose whole grain breads, cereals and baked goods
-limit the salt and condiments that you add to your food, both at the table and while cooking
-limit eating greasy snack foods, regular soft drinks, candy and other high-sugar, high-fat and salty snack foods
-eat fats such as canola and olive oil, peanut butter and nuts, but keep the quantities small.
Treatment for high blood pressure:
Specific treatment for high blood pressure will be determined by your physician based on:
-your age, overall health, and medical history
extent of the disease
-your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
expectations for the course of the disease
-your opinion or preference
Aside from taking preventive measures such as exercise, a balanced diet, and eliminating smoking, treatment also may include medications prescribed by your physician.