If you’re living with diabetes and hypertension, it’s not easy. You probably feel like you’re in a constant battle with your health. But you can manage both by making some subtle changes in your lifestyle.
Let’s start with the basics: If you or a loved one has diabetes, you know that it is a condition in which the body does not properly process food for energy use.
If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms and think you may be at risk for diabetes, ask your doctor about a blood sugar test, to determine your results:
- Excessive thirst/hunger
- Frequent urination
- Weight loss/gain
- Slow-healing wounds
- Blurred vision
Once you have been diagnosed with diabetes, you will be on a continuous journey to properly maintain it. When you are proactive about caring for your diabetes, you will have more energy and will be at less risk for health problems associated with diabetes, like:
- Heart attack
- Kidney problems
- Nerve damage
- Eye problems
- Teeth/gum problems
You will also frequently hear the word “hypertension.” Hypertension simply means you have high blood pressure. What many people may not know is that hypertension is twice as common in people with diabetes and can have a direct effect on your heart health.
The Relationship Between Diabetes and Hypertension
Diabetes and hypertension go hand-in-hand. Here are some fast facts to keep in mind:
- In general, only 25% of people with hypertension have adequate control of their blood pressure, and this is even more important for those with diabetes. Elevated blood pressure is known to contribute to diabetic microvascular and macrovascular complications such as:
-Microvascular: kidney disease, sexual dysfunction, and eye disease
-Macrovascular: cardiac disease and risk of strokes
- Hypertension often occurs alongside Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, as well as gestational diabetes.
- Hypertension and Type 2 diabetes are both aspects of metabolic syndrome (a cluster of conditions that occur together), a condition that is often accompanied by obesity and cardiovascular disease.
- Both hypertension and diabetes may have some underlying causes in common and can contribute to a worsening of each other's symptoms.
Treatment of both conditions overlaps, making your journey in caring for diabetes a bit easier.
How To Determine if you Have Hypertension
It is very easy to find out if you are suffering from hypertension. If you have a blood pressure machine at home, you can measure yourself, or visit your doctor to ensure your blood pressure reading is correct.
The American Heart Association breaks down how to read your blood pressure numbers, this way:
A blood pressure reading provides you with two numbers: the systolic, which is the top number and the diastolic is the bottom number.
This chart can let you know where your numbers need to be considered healthy.
-Normal: Systolic below 120 and diastolic below 80
-Elevated: Systolic 120–129 and diastolic under 80
-Hypertension stage 1: Systolic 130–139 and diastolic 80–89
-Hypertension stage 2: Systolic 140-plus and diastolic 90 or more
-Hypertensive crisis: Systolic higher than 180 and diastolic above 120.
If your numbers fall into a hypertensive crisis, you must see a doctor immediately.
How to Manage Diabetes and Hypertension
Lifestyle changes are the first steps in controlling your diabetes and hypertension. Getting more exercise, eating healthier, eliminating alcohol and tobacco consumption, and maintaining a healthy weight are the best places to start. However, depending on the severity of your diabetes and hypertension, your doctor may also prescribe medication to help you stay regulated.
Although the benefits of lifestyle modification are clear, few patients are able to achieve blood pressure control with these interventions alone. To reduce this risk, hypertension must be diagnosed accurately and promptly, and the patient must receive adequate treatment. Be sure to consult with your doctor as soon as possible.
You are at a higher risk for diabetes and hypertension as you age. Check out our guide, The Most Concerning Health Issues for Older Adults, to learn more. Or you can check out our interactive infographic on diabetes and how you can avoid it.