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High Blood Pressure and Diabetes; A Deadly Duo

Source: Jet, Health, Feb. 10, 2003

Did you know that people with diabetes are more likely to have high blood pressure? In fact, almost two out of three adults with diabetes have high blood pressure.

Diabetes mellitus is a group of diseases characterized by high levels of blood glucose resulting from defects in insulin production, insulin action, or both. High blood pressure is defined in an adult as a blood pressure greater than or equal to 140 mm Hg systolic pressure or greater than or equal to 90 mm Hg diastolic pressure.

High blood pressure and diabetes are associated with serious complications and increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, eye problems, kidney problems, nerve disease and premature death. So if you have both, you have an even greater risk for other health problems.

One of the best ways to win a fight is to first realize that you’re in one. Get to know your enemy; see your doctor or head to the local clinic and get tested for high blood pressure and diabetes.

High blood pressure (or hypertension) isn’t called “the silent killer” for nothing. Oftentimes people will have it and not even know it until it’s too late. When checking for high blood pressure you’ll hear your blood pressure reading said as two numbers, like “one-thirty over eighty.” The first number is the pressure as your heart beats and pushes blood into the blood vessels. The second number is the pressure when your heart rests between beats. For most people with diabetes, keeping blood pressure below 130/80 will help prevent problems.

A doctor will diagnose diabetes by looking for risk factors such as lack of exercise, excess weight, a family history of diabetes and symptoms such as thirst and frequent urination, complications like heart trouble or signs of excess glucose or sugar in blood and urine tests. From there the doctor can decide, based on these tests and a physical exam, whether someone has diabetes. If a blood test is borderline abnormal, the doctor may want to monitor the person’s blood glucose regularly. If a person is overweight, he or she probably will be advised to lose weight.

Fortunately, the care of high blood pressure is similar to the care of diabetes. In fact, sometimes the same treatment works for both. Weight loss and regular exercise will help control both hypertension and diabetes. Also, people with high blood pressure should cut down on salt. By working with your health care providers and following their treatments, you can meet the challenge of caring for high blood pressure and diabetes.

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