Managing hypertension in diabetics

Hypertension is an important risk factor for the development and worsening of many complications of diabetes, including diabetic eye disease and kidney disease. It affects up to 60% of people with diabetes.

Having diabetes increases your risk of developing high blood pressure and other cardiovascular problems, because diabetes adversely affects the arteries, predisposing them to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). Atherosclerosis can cause high blood pressure, which if not treated, can lead to blood vessel damage, stroke, heart failure, heart attack, or kidney failure.

Compared to people with normal blood pressure readings, men and women with hypertension have an increased risk of:

• Coronary artery disease (heart disease)

• Stroke

• Peripheral vascular disease (hardening of the arteries in the legs and feet)

• Heart failure

Studies show that people with normal yet high range blood pressure readings, over a 10 year period of follow up, had a two to three fold increased risk of heart disease.

Ideal blood pressure for diabetic patients

Blood pressure readings vary, but in general your blood pressure should not go above 130/80mmHg. The first number is the “systolic pressure” or the pressure in the arteries when your heart beats and fills the arteries with blood. The second number is the “diastolic pressure” or the pressure in the arteries when your heart rests between beats, filling itself with blood for the next contraction.

Having a normal blood pressure is as important to managing diabetes as having good control of your blood sugars when it comes to preventing the complications of diabetes.

Symptoms

Usually, high blood pressure has no symptoms. That’s why it’s so important to have your blood pressure checked on a regular basis (during all visits with your health care provider) and to follow your health care provider’s recommendations on home blood pressure monitoring.

Risk factors

Although the cause of high blood pressure is often unknown, there are factors that can increase the chance of developing the condition like heredity, race, gender, age, obesity, etc.

The other factors associated with hypertension are heavy alcohol consumption, diabetes, sedentary or inactive lifestyle.

Prevention

• Stop smoking

• Eat healthy food

• Maintain a healthy body weight

• Exercise regularly

Limit salt intake in the diet

Text: RJ Gayathri, Physician Assistant, www.mvdiabetes.com
Image: AFP

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