Diabetes and High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is twice as likely to strike a person with diabetes than a person
without diabetes. Left untreated, high blood pressure can lead to heart disease, kidney
disease, and stroke. In fact, a person with diabetes and high blood pressure is 4
times as likely to develop heart disease than someone who does not have either of
the conditions. About two-thirds of adults with diabetes have blood pressure greater
than 130/80 mm Hg or use prescription medicines for hypertension.
What is high blood pressure?
Blood pressure is the force of the blood pushing against the artery walls. Each time
the heart beats, it is pumping blood into these arteries. This results in the highest
blood pressure when the heart contracts and is pumping the blood. High blood pressure,
or hypertension, directly increases the risk of coronary heart disease (heart attack)
and stroke (brain attack). With high blood pressure, the arteries may have an increased
resistance against the flow of blood, causing the heart to pump harder to circulate
Two numbers are used to measure blood pressure. The number on the top, the systolic
pressure, refers to the pressure inside the artery when the heart contracts and is
pumping the blood through the body. The number on the bottom, the diastolic pressure,
refers to the pressure inside the artery when the heart is at rest and is filling
with blood. Both the systolic and diastolic pressures are recorded as "mm Hg" (millimeters
According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes
of Health, high blood pressure for adults is defined as:
NHLBI guidelines for prehypertension are:
NHLBI guidelines define normal blood pressure as follows:
What are the symptoms of high blood pressure?
Often, people with high blood pressure do not have noticeable symptoms. If the blood
pressure is greatly elevated, a person may experience the following. However, each
individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
The symptoms of high blood pressure may resemble other medical conditions or problems.
Always talk with your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
Preventing high blood pressure
The American Diabetes Association recommends the following to help prevent the onset
of high blood pressure:
Reduce your salt intake
Engage in stress-relieving activities
Get to and stay at a healthy weight
Avoid excessive alcohol intake
Stop smoking and avoid exposure to secondhand smoke
Monitor your blood pressure
Treatment for high blood pressure
Specific treatment for high blood pressure will be discussed with you by your healthcare
provider based on:
Your age, overall health, and medical history
Extent of the disease
Your tolerance for specific medicines, procedures, or therapies
Expectations for the course of the disease
Your opinion or preference
Treatment may include exercise, a balanced diet, and quitting smoking, as well as
medicines prescribed by your healthcare provider.