Did you know that high blood pressure usually goes along with diabetes? About two-thirds of people who have diabetes have twice the risk of heart disease as opposed to people who are only dealing with high blood pressure. So when you combine diabetes and high blood pressure it can be a deadly combination.
High Blood Pressure Explained
People with hypertension (or high blood pressure) have blood pumping through their heart with too much force. If too much force continues for a long time, the high pressure can lead to the heart muscle tiring out. As the heart muscle tires out, the heart will enlarge, which can cause shortness of breath, abnormal heart rhythms, or edema.
A digital blood pressure monitor is the easiest way to keep track of your blood pressure. The top number of the reading is called the systolic pressure. This pressure is the pressure in your heart that squeezes and fills the artery vessels with blood.
The bottom number is called the diastolic pressure. This pressure is when your heart is resting between beats. While your heart is resting, it is filling itself with blood for the next contraction.
Diabetes is a disease and happens when your blood sugar (also called blood glucose) is too high. Blood glucose typically comes from foods and helps you maintain energy. Insulin is a hormone. This hormone is made by your pancreas and helps glucose get to your cells. Once the glucose is in your cells it is used for energy. If your pancreas doesn’t make enough insulin then the blood sugar stays in your blood. When it stays in your blood, it doesn’t reach your cells, so causes high blood sugar.
There are three common types of diabetes:
- Type 1
- Type 2
- Gestational Diabetes
About 1.25 million Americans have type 1 diabetes. When it comes to type 1 diabetes, it means your body is not producing enough insulin. Basically, your immune system destroys the cells in your pancreas that make insulin. Type 1 is common in both children and young adults but can appear anytime.
Type 2 diabetes typically happens in middle-aged and older people. This is the most common type of diabetes. In this case, your body doesn’t use insulin well or it does not make enough.
Gestational diabetes happens in some women while they are pregnant. After the woman gives birth, most of the time gestational diabetes goes away. Researchers don’t know why women get gestational diabetes. They think it is because the hormone fluctuation makes it harder for the body to process blood sugar, which causes the blood sugar to be high.
Combination of Risk Factors for Diabetes and High Blood Pressure
Since type 2 diabetes causes your body to be resistant to insulin, blood sugar builds up in the blood. When this happens, your body retains fluids and salt. This increases the risk for high or increasingly higher blood pressure. Furthermore, the longer you have diabetes the more likely it damages the small blood vessels in your body. The walls of the blood vessels stiffen, which increases blood pressure.
High blood pressure over a long period of time may contribute to early-onset dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and stroke. This is because the blood vessels in the brain are susceptible to damage from chronic high blood pressure.
Having both diabetes and high blood pressure may increase your risk for stroke and heart attack. You may also be at risk for developing retinopathy, kidney disease, or other diseases that are associated with diabetes.
Stopping High Blood Pressure and Diabetes Before They Start
There are a few things you can do to prevent diabetes and high blood pressure before they start.
Being overweight or obese greatly increases your risk of high blood pressure and diabetes. Talk with your doctor about your body mass index (BMI) to make sure it is in a healthy range. If your BMI is not in a healthy range, talk to your doctor about how to safely lower your BMI.
Along with maintaining a healthy BMI, it is important to choose foods that nourish your body. Choose fresh fruits, vegetables, and lean meats. Look for foods that provide a good amount of fiber, potassium, and protein. Stay away from foods that have high saturated fat and salt content.
If you aren’t already, start getting physically active. Being active about 30 minutes a day for five days a week can lower your weight and blood pressure.
Limit Your Alcohol
Alcohol can raise your blood pressure so it is a good idea to limit the amount you drink. Women should have a maximum of one alcoholic drink per day and men a maximum of two alcoholic drinks per day.
Sleep is an important part of your health. Getting enough sleep helps keep your blood vessels healthy and helps with overall heart health. If you don’t get enough sleep on a daily basis, you may have an increased risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.
Keep an Eye on Your Blood Pressure
The easiest way to prevent high blood pressure is to use a digital blood pressure monitor and regularly check your numbers. Write down your numbers so you can show your doctor at your next appointment. Your doctor may recommend different ways to lower your blood pressure based on your numbers.
Diabetes and High Blood Pressure Can Be a Deadly Combination
Since diabetes can weaken the walls of your blood vessels, and high blood pressure increases the force in your blood vessels, it is important to keep your numbers in check. Keep track of your blood s