The risks of hypertension and ways to lower your blood pressure
Many people with diabetes struggle with hypertension, or high blood pressure. Learn about the impacts to your health when these conditions coexist, and find out how to maintain a healthy blood pressure with diabetes.
What is blood pressure?
Blood pressure is the force created by blood moving through your vessels. It is recorded as two numbers with a slash between them. The first number is called “systolic,” and the second number is called “diastolic.” Systolic pressure is the bigger number and refers to the force created when blood is squeezed out of the heart and into the body. Diastolic pressure is a smaller number because it measures the force of blood flow when the heart relaxes between beats.
Healthy blood pressure for diabetics
It is recommended that individuals with diabetes maintain a blood pressure reading of 140/90 or lower. For some, a goal of 130/80 is recommended.
Alleviating the risks of hypertension
By lowering your blood pressure, you reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke. When blood moves through your vessels with too much force, it is called high blood pressure or hypertension. Hypertension causes the heart to work harder and contributes to the dangerous narrowing of blood vessels, which may lead to heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
People with diabetes are at risk for high blood pressure. Both hypertension and diabetes can cause damage to your eyes, kidneys, and vascular system.
Your doctor may recommend a statin medication. Statin drugs lower cholesterol and reduce risk of heart attacks by helping prevent buildup of artery wall plaque that can lead to blockage of blood vessels. Even if your cholesterol levels are normal, your doctor may recommend a statin if you have diabetes. This is because – even with normal cholesterol – diabetes puts you at increased risk of heart disease.
Tips to help reduce your blood pressure
- Work with your health care provider to find a treatment plan that’s right for you. This may include a combination of diet, exercise, and medication.
- Eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean protein, legumes, and whole-grain breads and cereals.
- Use herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor foods.
- Check food labels and choose foods with less than 400 mg of sodium per serving. The goal is less than 2,000 mg and not to exceed 2,300 mg of sodium daily.
- Maintain a healthy weight for your height.
- Limit alcohol consumption and consult your health care provider about whether it is safe to drink alcohol at all.
- If you smoke, get help to quit.
- Ask your health care provider about medications to help reduce high blood pressure. This includes ACE inhibitors, ARBs, calcium channel blockers, and diuretics.