Living with diabetes series
Blood Pressure and Living with Type 2 Diabetes
Why worry about blood pressure and tips to keep it under control
A majority of people living with type 2 diabetes suffer from high blood pressure and are on medication to keep it under control.
Why worry about blood pressure?
High blood pressure or hypertension can be a silent killer because in most cases, there are no symptoms. It increases your risk for other health problems caused by diabetes and these include eye disease, kidney damage, heart disease, and stroke. Controlling it lowers your risk for heart disease by half, besides delaying kidney disease, a common issue with type 2 diabetes.
Controlling your blood pressure
Aim for blood pressure below 140 / 90, especially if you are living with type 2 diabetes or/and have related problems. A healthy lifestyle is your first step to preventing and controlling high blood pressure. Most times, lifestyle changes can help you do this, but if that is not enough, you might need prescription blood pressure medication.
Doctors usually diagnose high blood pressure based on several readings at different times. If the reading is consistently 140/90 mmHg or more, medication may be prescribed to keep it under control.
Besides the fact that high blood pressure increases your risk for heart disease and kidney disease, and the likelihood of a stroke, the problem with hypertension or high blood pressure, and I mentioned earlier, is that it can exist without symptoms. No one is immune to it. The scary part is, once it develops, it stays for life. The good news is you can take action to control, if not prevent it.
Keeping your blood pressure under control
Heart-healthy living is the answer. Research shows that following a healthy eating plan reduces the risk of developing high blood pressure and also lowers high blood pressure.
Switch to a low salt diet. Eat foods high in potassium. A dietician I interacted with said that salt is an acquired taste and we can do without it, apparently. The recommended salt per day is about one teaspoon, which includes what we use in cooking as well as at the table. Reducing salt and sodium in your diet keeps your blood pressure from rising and also helps your medication work better.
Get regular exercise
The importance of being physically active cannot be overemphasized — it is one of the most important steps you can take to prevent or control high blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart disease, even as you keep your blood sugar under control. A thirty-minute walk every day can make all the difference.
Too much alcohol can raise blood pressure. It can also harm the liver, brain, and heart. Alcoholic drinks are also calorie-rich, and this can add on those pounds which is a no-no for cholesterol levels and blood sugar.
Maintain a healthy weight
High blood pressure and obesity often go hand in hand with diabetes. Being overweight increases your risk of developing high blood pressure, besides inviting other health problems like heart disease, high blood cholesterol, and diabetes, which in turn are big risk factors for heart disease.
For those who are overweight and have high blood pressure, losing even 10 pounds can make a huge difference. Physical activity strengthens your heart, lowers your blood pressure, burns calories, and improves your blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
Smoking kills. It causes cancer. It damages the walls of the blood vessel walls and speeds up the process of hardening the arteries. No, filtered cigarettes are no better. If you smoke, quit. If you don’t smoke, great! Once you quit, you reduce your risk of having a heart attack.
If you keep your ABCs of diabetes — blood pressure, cholesterol, and A1c levels — in check, you are on the right track. Controlling your blood pressure also helps slow down or prevent eye disease caused by diabetes. Make sure your doctor checks your blood pressure at every visit.
Like me, if you are on diabetes medication, and have your sugar levels in control, don’t even think of tampering with your medication schedule. It is tempting to think you can do without it. But — if by a cruel kick of Fate, complications, arise, you cannot turn back the clock.
In a majority of people diagnosed with diabetes, the main problem is the lack of diabetes education. The Living with Type-2 Diabetes series will cover various aspects of the condition with tips and suggestions to manage it better.
Disclaimer: The information in this post is purely for educational purposes only and does not substitute medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult your physician for medical advice, diagnosis, and treatment.
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