Hypertension (high blood pressure) often affects people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Having these conditions together can make them both worse. Hypertension is also known as the “silent killer”. This is because it usually has no signs or symptoms and many people are not aware they have it. A blood pressure higher than 140/90 needs to be monitored, especially if you are a diabetic. High blood pressure can increase a person’s risk of stroke and heart attack and is quite often an occurrence with diabetes. Diabetes and Hypertension is a lethal combination.
3 things diabetes does to your increase blood pressure:
- Decrease the ability of blood vessels to stretch
- Increases the amount of fluid in the body
- Changes the way your body manages insulin
Symptoms of Hypertension
1. Shortness of breath
This is one of the first symptoms of hypertension in diabetes. Shortness of breath is an uncomfortable or terrifying experience, especially when it has never happened before.
2. Difficulty in sleeping
Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep disorder where you repeatedly stop and start breathing during your sleep. This can disrupt the blood flow as sleep helps to regulate stress hormones and keep the nervous system healthy.
3. Blurred vision
If you check your eyes, you can see tiny, delicate blood vessels that supply blood to the eyes. Any fluctuation in the blood pressure can easily affect the eye blood vessels as any other.
The relationship between headache and hypertension is a subject of concern to people. There are people who have complained about having a headache while showing other symptoms of hypertension.
Risks involved with Diabetes and Hypertension
Hypertension in diabetes creates a force on the artery walls causing a build-up of fatty material on the inside walls of the blood vessels, also known as atherosclerosis. The build-up fatty material is plaque which is formed of fat, vitamins and cholesterol. With time, this fatty material hardens and narrows the blood vessels causing force in blood flow. When the plaque limits the oxygen-rich blood to reach various organs of the body, this can lead to serious problems like heart attack, stroke or even death.
b) Kidney disease
Hypertension in diabetes damages the blood vessels and filters in the kidneys leads to excretion of waste products. When the renal arteries can’t supply oxygen-rich blood to kidneys, it leads to chronic kidney disease (CKD). CKD results in an increased amount of waste in the blood which can make you sick. It can also lead to anaemia, poor nutritional health, nerve damage and weak bones.
c) Eye disease
Hypertension in diabetes damages the small blood vessels in the retina leading to blurred vision. As it’s always discussed, the eyes and feet of diabetics are more prone to damage than any other part.
Do’s and Don’ts for People with Diabetes and Hypertension
- Constantly monitor your sugar levels.
- Take foods rich in potassium. The foods that are rich in potassium include avocados, sweet potatoes, bananas, yoghurt and spinach.
- Include more dietary fiber by eating lots of salads and whole grains.
- Consult your diabetes educator/expert on a regular basis. Follow all clinical assessments (ECG etc) as recommended by your doctor. A little knowledge is a great thing so monitor your blood pressure on regular intervals.
- We know it is near to impossible to completely avoid salt intake in the diet. When the body consumes more salt, it holds extra water which stiffens the body. Over time, this results in high blood pressure.
- Smoking acutely exerts a hypertensive effect. The nicotine in cigarettes narrows down the arteries, which can result in high blood pressure. Control your alcohol intake or consult your health practitioner /doctor.
- Drinking alcohol has a very adverse impact on blood pressure levels. More than three drinks can easily result in high blood pressure, and binge drinking has other long-time increases.
- Stress is the body’s method of telling you to relax. High levels of stress can result in high blood pressure. Try not to be stressed and take out time to relax.
Hypertension and diabetes generally share similar risk factors, including being overweight, following an unhealthy diet, and living an inactive lifestyle. If you do find your blood pressure of the normal mark, consult your doctor to avoid complications.
Follow all the recommendations given by your health coach and do not forget to monitor your sugar levels with BeatO. Optimise your diet and lifestyle according to your sugar level to ensure that you are managing your diabetic condition in the best possible manner.