Blood Pressure and Diabetes

High blood pressure not only increases the chance for heart disease, but also other diabetic complications like kidney failure and eye disease. Caucasians are far less likely than African Americans to have elevated blood pressure. The American Diabetic Association would like to see blood pressures at 130/80 mm Hg or less. Prolonged elevated blood pressure is dangerous, and should be taken seriously.

What Is High Blood Pressure?

Blood pressure is the force the blood makes against the artery wall. A health care provider diagnoses high blood pressure when blood pushes through the artery with too much force. Elevated blood pressure for any lengthy period makes the heart work too hard. Elevated blood pressure damages arteries, hardening and weakening the artery walls, and increases plaque build-up. This can cause eye problems, heart disease, stroke, and sexual dysfunction.

Two numbers are recorded when blood pressure is clinically checked. The nurse will report it as something like “130 over 80.” The first number records the force of blood in the vessels when the heart beats, called systolic pressure. The second number is the force of blood in the vessels when the heart rests, called diastolic pressure.

High Blood Pressure Risks

About 73 million Americans have hypertension. Another 69 million have borderline hypertension. That means that at least two of every three American adults have unhealthy blood pressure. Having hypertension increases their risk of heart attacks and strokes. Higher recorded pressures promote greater health risks. High blood pressure shaves five years off an average person’s life. The American Heart Association calls hypertension “the silent killer” because it often does not cause symptoms until it damages the circulation. Even though everything feels good, it can quietly damage the brain, eyes, and kidneys.

Lowering Blood Pressure

Normal blood pressure is a systolic reading below 120, and a diastolic reading below 80. Lowering blood pressure even a little protects a lot. Lowering the systolic pressure by 10 points or the diastolic pressure by 5 points reduces the risk of stroke by 30 percent to 40 percent, and the risk of heart attack by 15 percent to 25 percent. Other conditions, call for special treatment goals, and a diabetic’s blood pressure should remain 130/80 or lower.

Changing Lifestyle Patterns

Talk with health care team members about lifestyle changes that are appropriate for your condition. Below are listed a few changes that can help in lowering blood pressure.

Follow the Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Cut the amount of sodium in the diet to 2,300 mg a day or less for healthy persons. Moreover, set a target of 1,500 mg a day or less for those with high blood pressure. Also, cut down on animal fat and processed foods, and eat lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-or nonfat dairy products. Small amounts of alcohol will not raise blood pressure. If you choose to drink, limit yourself to one to two drinks per day.

Regular exercise is important in lowering blood pressure, and for overall health. It is not necessary to spend long hours at the gym. As little as 30 minutes of moderate exercise, such as a brisk walk will help. As long as hypertensive people exercise nearly every day. Regular exercise protects health even if it does not cause weight loss. Weight control is one of the best ways to reduce blood pressure, but it is also one of the hardest. Stick to a low-calorie diet and regular exercise.

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