What Is High Blood Pressure?
High blood pressure and type 2 diabetes are different conditions, but they often occur together. In fact, according to the American Diabetes Association, “2 of 3 people with diabetes report having high blood pressure or take prescription medications to lower their blood pressure.”
The American Heart Association explains that “high blood pressure (also referred to as HBP, or hypertension) is when your blood pressure, the force of blood flowing through your blood vessels, is consistently too high.” This can harm your body by doing damage to the kidneys, cells and blood vessels. This damage can then lead to worsening health and events like heart attack and stroke.
What Is Type 2 Diabetes?
High blood sugar, also called diabetes, is having too much sugar in your blood stream. Sugar is floating around in the blood instead of entering the cells to give them energy. This syrupy blood can clog up blood vessels and block them. Then, blood cannot flow there, and the cells die. This can lead to worsening health and problems with fingers, toes, kidneys and eyes being harmed because they have the smallest, delicate vessels that are more easily damaged.
Is this just bad luck? Or why are these 2 conditions found so commonly together? They occur together due to their in common risk factors. Even their prevention and treatment greatly overlap.
Let’s first look at the risk factors these two conditions have in common, starting with some unmodifiable risk factors. “Unmodifiable” means you cannot do anything to change these. Although these factors increase your risk, you are stuck with them! Such as increasing age, race and family history.
Type 2 Diabetes and Hypertension also share several modifiable risk factors. Consider this as good news on a serious subject because these are risk factors you can do something about. Chronic uncontrolled stress, overweight, physical inactivity & an unhealthy diet (a diet containing mostly processed, high sugar and sodium foods) are not easy topics to tackle, but they are thankfully risk factors you can work on.
How Do You Prevent High Blood Pressure and Type 2 Diabetes?
Now, let’s talk prevention. “Ah-ha” moments have been happening here in our Diabetes Prevention Programs. We have groups in Johnson County (www.preventdiabeteskc.com), and they even exist nationwide (www.cdc.gov/diabetes/prevention/index.html), if you are reading this from afar! The word “diabetes” is in the title, but as we’ve discussed, many participants also have high blood pressure. They joined for the diabetes prevention part and now are excited that improvements can be seen with their blood pressure. Remember the modifiable risk factors we can work on? These groups address specifically those! And, as a result, joining one of these groups could decrease your risk of type 2 diabetes & improve your blood pressure if it is elevated due to overweight, lack of physical activity or an unhealthy diet.
Know your numbers, as in your blood pressure & blood sugars values. Talk with your doctor about your personal plan and before starting or changing your diet and/or physical activity level.