High blood pressure (hypertension) is an important risk factor for the development and worsening of many complications of diabetes, including diabetic eye disease and kidney disease. Most people with diabetes develop high blood pressure during their life..
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.
There was a time when doctors couldn't get anywhere near Sherri Buffington with a needle. "I was deathly afraid of needles," recalls the 44-year-old senior legal secretary from Sicklerville, N.J. "I've been petrified of needles since I was a little kid."
Then in 2004, Buffington was diagnosed with diabetes. When oral medications didn't control her disease, her doctor prescribed an injectable prescription medication along with insulin. Taking these drugs meant she would have to inject herself, sometimes...
Compared to people with normal blood pressure readings, men and women with hypertension have an increased risk of:
Coronary artery disease (heart disease)
Peripheral vascular disease (hardening of the arteries in the legs and feet)
Even blood pressure that is in the higher range of normal, called prehypertension (defined as 120-139/ 80-89) impacts your health. Studies have shown that people with prehypertension, over a 10-year period, have a two to threefold risk of developing heart disease.
What Should Blood Pressure Be if You Have Diabetes?
Blood pressure readings vary, but in general your blood pressure should not go above 130/80. The first, or top, number is the "systolic pressure" or the pressure in the arteries when your heart beats and fills the arteries with blood. The second, or bottom, 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 sugar levels when it comes to preventing diabetes complications.
What Are the Symptoms of High Blood Pressure?
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.
How Is High Blood Pressure Treated?
ACE (angiotensin converting enzyme) inhibitors and ARBS (angiotensin II receptor blockers) are groups of medications that are often used to treat high blood pressure in people with diabetes. Although other high blood pressure medicines are available, ACE and ARBS have been shown to not only to be useful drugs to treat high blood pressure, but have been shown to prevent or delay the progression of kidney disease in people with diabetes.
Note: Some blood pressure medicines may adversely affect your blood sugar and lipid levels. Blood pressure medicines can also cause impotence. Talk with your doctor about the side effects of prescribed medicines.
Other drugs used to treat high blood pressure in people with diabetes include a class of drugs known commonly as 'water pills' or diuretics, which help the body rid itself of excess fluid.
Because adequate control of blood pressure usually requires more than one medication, most doctors use ACE or ARBS first, then add other anti-hypertension drugs.