Diabetes and high blood pressure are often associated. High blood pressure, or hypertension, occurs when your blood pressure increases to unhealthy levels.
Your blood pressure measurement takes into account how quickly blood is passing through your veins and the amount of resistance the blood meets
while it’s pumping. Narrow arteries increase strength. The narrower your arteries are, the higher your blood pressure will be.
Symptoms of High Blood Pressure
Hypertension is quite common; many people are living with the condition. Hypertension may develop over the course of several years. During those years, you may not notice any symptoms. Even without symptoms, high blood pressure with diabetes can cause damage to your arteries and blood vessels. The only way to know if your blood pressure is high is through regular checkups. This is especially important if you have a close relative who has high blood pressure.
If your blood pressure is extremely high, there may be certain symptoms to look out for, including:
- A severe headache
- Fatigue or confusion
- Vision problems
- Chest pain
- Difficulty in breathing
- Irregular heartbeat
- Blood in the urine
- Pounding in your chest, neck, or ears
If you have any of these symptoms, consult your doctor immediately because it could lead to a heart attack or stroke.
Diagnosing high blood pressure
Diagnosing high blood pressure is as simple as taking a blood pressure reading. If your blood pressure is elevated, get more readings over the course of a few days or weeks. A high blood pressure diagnosis is rarely given after just one reading. If your blood pressure remains high, your doctor will likely conduct more tests to rule out underlying conditions.
How to understand high blood pressure readings
Following blood pressure is easy, you can become an expert in reading and knowing your blood pressure numbers. This is essential for identifying high blood pressure, in its earlier stages to prevent health complications. Two numbers create a blood pressure reading.
Systolic pressure: This is the first number. It indicates the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats and pumps out blood.
Diastolic pressure: This is the second number. It’s the reading of the pressure in your arteries between beats of your heart.
What are the types of blood pressure reading?
There are four types of blood pressure readings:
- Normal Reading
- Hypertension Stage 1
- Hypertension Stage 2
For normal reading, your blood pressure should be in between 120/80 and 90/60. The blood pressure readings are expressed as millimeters of mercury. This unit is abbreviated as mmHg. So, a normal reading would be any blood pressure below 120/80 mmHg and above 90/60 mmHg.
Numbers higher than 120/80 mmHg are a red flag that you need to take on heart-healthy habits. When your blood pressure is in between 120/80 mmHg and 139/89 mmHg, it means you have prehypertension.
Although these numbers aren’t technically considered high blood pressure, you’ve moved out of the normal range. Elevated blood pressure has a good chance of turning into actual high blood pressure, which puts you at an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
No medications are necessary for prehypertension. But this is when you should adopt healthier lifestyle choices. A balanced diet and regular exercise can help lower your blood pressure to a healthy range. This can also contribute to preventing prehypertension from developing into full-fledged hypertension.
Hypertension: Stage 1
You’ll be diagnosed with high blood pressure if your blood pressure reaches between 140/90 mmHg and 159/99 mmHg. This is considered stage 1 hypertension. However, if you get only one reading this high, you may not truly have high blood pressure. What determines the diagnosis of hypertension at any stage is if your numbers remain this high over a period.
Your doctor can help you measure and track your blood pressure to confirm whether it’s too high. You may need to start taking medications if your blood pressure doesn’t improve after one month of developing a healthy lifestyle.
Hypertension: Stage 2
Stage 2 high blood pressure indicates an even more severe condition. If your blood pressure reading is 160/100 mmHg or more, it is considered stage 2 hypertension. At this stage, your doctor will recommend one or more medications for keeping your blood pressure under control. But you should not rely solely on drugs to treat hypertension. Lifestyle habits are just as important in stage 2 as they are in the other stages.
For a diabetic person, the reading should be below 140/80 mmHg and below 130/80 mmHg if he has kidney disease.
A blood pressure reading is taken with a pressure cuff. For an accurate reading, it’s important you have a cuff that fits. An ill-fitting cuff may deliver inaccurate readings.
How common is high blood pressure amongst people with diabetes?
Approximately 8 in 10 people with type 2 diabetes develop high blood pressure at some stage of their life. Furthermore, risk increases for those who are overweight, eat small fruit and vegetable levels and don’t take much exercise.
How can you lower blood pressure while managing your diabetes?
Treating hypertension often doesn’t erase or reverse the effects of uncontrolled hypertension. It does, however, lower and possibly eliminates the risks for future problems.
The following preventive measures can help lower or stave off high blood pressure:
- Reduce your sodium intake: Ideally, you should not consume more than 1,500 mg per day.
- Don’t add salt to your foods: This increases your overall sodium intake.
- Limit processed foods: While also high in sodium, many of these foods are also low in nutritional value.
- Reduce your caffeine intake: Talk to your doctor to see if caffeine sensitivity plays a role in your blood pressure readings.
- Exercise more often: Consistency is key in maintaining a healthy blood pressure reading. It’s better to exercise 30 minutes a day, rather than a few hours on the weekends.
- Maintain a healthy weight, or lose weight if necessary: Losing even 10 pounds can make an impact on your blood pressure readings.
- Manage your stress levels: Moderate exercise or even 10-minute meditation sessions can help.
- As you age, prevention becomes even more important. Systolic pressure tends to creep up once you’re over 50. Talk to your doctor about how you can manage your overall health to help prevent the onset of hypertension along with diabetes.
- Keep a log of your blood pressure readings, and take it to your regular doctor appointments. This can help your doctor see any possible problems before the condition advances.
Along with your diabetes in control, keeping your blood pressure in the normal range is crucial in preventing complications, such as heart disease and stroke. A combination of healthy lifestyle habits and medications can also help lower your blood pressure. Weight loss is also important in keeping your numbers down.
Remember that a single blood pressure reading doesn’t necessarily classify your health in stone. Blood pressure readings taken over time are the most accurate. This is why it’s ideal to have your blood pressure taken by your doctor at least twice a year, or more often if your readings are high.