If you or someone you know has diabetes, you know that there is no shortage of complications such as: Heart damage, Nerve damage, eye damage. However, there are other concerns that many diabetics push to the bottom of their priority lists, that should really be higher.
In an earlier blog post we talked about the importance of foot care, and today we are looking at another condition often accompanying diabetes; hypertension.
While it sounds complicated, hypertension simply means ‘high blood pressure’. Unfortunately, this is one of the few ‘simple’ things about this condition.
What does high blood pressure mean?
Most of us are aware that having high blood pressure is bad and we had it checked by our GPs or at a chemist- but what actually is high blood pressure? Simply put, blood pressure refers to the force, or stain, that blood puts on your blood vessels. Blood vessels meaning your veins, arteries, or capillaries, that carry blood around the body. A simple way to think of it, is like a garden hose; ‘blood’ pressure is how much the water is pushing against the ‘walls’ of the hose when watering the garden. Using the same analogy, when you kink or bend the hose, we understand that the pressure increases, causing high (blood) pressure.
So how high is high blood pressure?
Normal blood pressure is thought to be around 120 over 80, and anything higher than 130 over 80 is considered ‘high’. So what do these numbers mean? Well, both numbers refer to the blood pressure, but at different times. The first number is referred to as “systolic pressure”- which is the pressure on your blood vessels when your heart pushes blood around your body. The small number, called "diastolic pressure," refers to your blood pressure during the time between heartbeats.
Why should we be worried?
Sadly, high blood pressure is no joke. People with high blood pressure are at increased risk of a number of very serious conditions, including:
- Heart disease,
- Heart failure,
- Peripheral vascular disease (hardening arteries in the legs and feet).
It can also accelerate, or exasperate, common complications of diabetes, like diabetic eye disease and kidney disease.
What has this got to do with our diabetes?
Much like foot ulcers, and amputation people with diabetes are more at risk of having high blood pressure than other people. Diabetes damages our blood vessels which makes our arteries more susceptible to hardening (‘atherosclerosis’) which may cause high blood pressure. More common in people with Type-2 diabetes, Blood Pressure UK states:
“About 25% of people with Type 1 diabetes and 80% of people with Type 2 diabetes have high blood pressure.”*1.
How do we know if we have high blood pressure?
Unfortunately, there aren’t any easily observable symptoms of high blood pressure- leading to its moniker the silent killer. If you have a diabetes diagnosis, it’s likely that your doctor is regularly checking your blood pressure, and if they are not it’s a very good idea to bring it up with them. Often, a doctor will use a manual Blood Pressure Monitor to check your blood pressure, but there are many different types and models that you can use at home. Your local pharmacy may also have a public blood pressure monitor for public use.
Now that I know the risks, what should we be doing?
The most important thing to do is to monitor our blood pressure regularly and share the results with our doctor. With the growth of processed food and increasingly sedentary lifestyles, the risk of high blood pressure for us diabetics is higher than ever.
So let's be aware, and test ourself on a regular base
At IBD Medical we are excited to be offering Australians the leading Italian brand MEDEL blood pressure monitors. As a limited time special offer to our blog readers shop now, save 15% on the Medel Control Blood Pressure Monitor and get it shipped Free of Charge to your home from our Sydney warehouse.
As always if we can assist you with anything do not hesitate to contact us.
Healthy times, from all of us at IBD Medical!
Our Services and Blog posts are NOT intended to substitute any professional medical advice or treatment and are offered for informational purposes only. Remember to always work with your doctor before changing anything about your medication or diabetes management. The above information is NOT medical advice.