Hypertension and Diabetes

People who have both hypertension and diabetes are at an even greater risk for developing secondary diseases such as atherosclerosis.

Atherosclerosis is a disease that causes plaque build-up and hardening of the blood vessels, especially the arteries. This can lead to coronary artery disease, heart attack, stroke and/or kidney disease.

Research has shown that the population of diabetics with hypertension is greater than the population of non-diabetics with hypertension.

It has also shown that there is a link between the two diseases. According to Dr. William White of the University of Connecticut Health Center, diabetes causes metabolic changes due to the body’s resistance to insulin which leads to the body holding on to too much sodium (salt). Too much sodium causes the body to hold on to too much water which adds volume to your blood. The extra volume added to the blood causes your blood pressure to rise which puts a strain on your heart and kidneys. So as you can see it is a vicious circle and if you don’t control your diabetes you are at a great risk of developing hypertension.

What can you do to help yourself? The most important thing you can do is get diagnosed. If you have a family history of either hypertension or diabetes you should see your doctor. Most people ages 20-45 don’t go to the doctor and may go undiagnosed for many years until they are in a crisis situation. Don’t let this happen to you; learn to control both your diabetes and your hypertension.

The treatment goals for diabetics with hypertension have changed and the most recent guidelines for blood glucose levels have dropped. The newest recommendations are to keep your blood glucose levels less than 120 and your Hemoglobin A1C less than 7%. The guidelines for hypertension in diabetics have also been lowered recently to 125 systolic blood pressure (top number) over 75 diastolic (lower number).

Check with your doctor to see what your levels are. Early diagnosis and lifestyle changes such as diet control and exercise play a big role in controlling these diseases and preventing future problems.

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