Skip to content

ABCs: Blood Pressure and Diabetes continued...

Why Does Blood Pressure Matter?

Keeping your blood pressure at a healthy level lowers your chances of having heart disease by 33% to 50% -- a big benefit. It can also help prevent or delay kidney disease, another common problem with diabetes.

What's Your Blood Pressure Goal?

Aim for a blood pressure score below 140/80 most of the time. Get your blood pressure checked at least four times a year or at each diabetes checkup. You could also use a blood pressure monitor at home to check your blood pressure more often.

How Can You Improve Your Blood Pressure?

All the things that are good for your heart -- eating a low-salt diet, eating more foods high in potassium, getting regular exercise, limiting alcohol, quitting smoking, and staying at a healthy weight -- will help you control your blood pressure. When lifestyle changes aren't enough to control high blood pressure, drugs can help lower it.

ABCs: Cholesterol and Diabetes

The wrong kinds of fats in your blood can build up in your arteries. This raises your chance of heart disease and stroke. The biggest problem is "bad" cholesterol -- called LDL cholesterol. Other things that increase your risk of heart disease and stroke are included in a calculation to find out if you will need medications to lower your cholesterol.

Why Does Cholesterol Matter?

Keeping your LDL cholesterol at a healthy level can bring down your chances of heart disease. Your doctor will let you know by how much your cholesterol should be lowered.

What's Your Cholesterol Goal?

Have your cholesterol checked at least once a year. Aim for these scores:

  • LDL below 100 for most people with diabetes under the age of 40 or those without heart disease. Experts advise a goal below 70 if you have had a heart attack or other heart problem.
  • HDL above 50 for women, and above 40 for men.
  • Triglycerides lower than 150.

How Can You Improve Your Cholesterol?

You can help lower your cholesterol and your chance of heart disease by making changes in what you eat and how active you are. Eat a mix of colorful fruits and vegetables. Make other foods that are low in saturated and trans fat and cholesterol, and high in whole-grain fiber, a big part of your diet. Lose weight if you need to, and get regular exercise. If that's not enough to get your cholesterol to healthy levels, your doctor may prescribe a drug to help you reach your goal.