The evidence is in. Blood pressure control in people with both 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. 60 to 65 percent of people who have diabetes also have high blood pressure. Blood pressure control, at a level at or below 130/80, can help prevent or slow down the progression of several common long-term diabetes problems—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 is it below 130/80. If your blood pressure is higher than 130/80 on several occasions, talk with your health care 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 if you don’t already eat: - 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) - five servings of fruits and vegetables a day
- Reduce the number of high sodium foods you eat and the amount of salt you use If you drink alcohol, reduce the amount you drink
- Be as active as you can be — strive for at least 30 minutes of activity five times per week
- Do not start to 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 health care provider if you should begin to take a blood pressure medicine. The blood pressure medicine recommended for people with diabetes to start on is called an ACE inhibitor.
What’s the connection between type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure?
Today, experts believe that people with type 2 diabetes have a higher incidence of high blood pressure due to often relatively high amounts of insulin in their circulation, as well as insulin resistance. This is the inability to use the insulin that your body makes. This situation causes high blood pressure. It is well known that people with type 2 diabetes who are overweight, inactive and/or don’t eat healthy are more likely to have high blood pressure. It also is well known that if people with type 2 diabetes eat more vegetables, fish, whole grains, and low-fat dairy foods, 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 for 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.