High Blood Pressure and Diabetes

February 15, 2012 at 11:31 am Leave a comment

Rolling up your sleeve, hearing the sticky sound of Velcro ripping apart, feeling the big squeeze on your upper arm: Getting your blood pressure taken is often a routine part of a trip to the doctor. But when your doctor or nurse reads out the numbers over the hiss of the cuff’s deflation, do you know what they mean for your health? You should. More than 70 percent of people with diabetes have high blood pressure (also known as hypertension), take medication to keep it in check. It’s a serious health concern, and understanding the basics can keep the pressure from getting to you.

With every beat of your heart, blood surges through the winding passageways that make up your circulatory system. As blood pushes against vessel walls, the walls push back—a shoving match called blood pressure. Even if you feel fine, your blood pressure may still be high. The only way to find out is to get it checked regularly.

Blood pressure is recorded as two numbers, the systolic and diastolic pressures. You’ll hear your blood pressure is, say, “120 over 70” or see it written as “120/70 mm Hg.” The top line is the systolic pressure; the bottom, the diastolic. The abbreviations “mm Hg” stand for “millimeters of mercury,” because blood pressure readings have traditionally been taken by a device that uses the height of a column of mercury to assess blood pressure. The systolic pressure is higher because it is measured during a heartbeat, when the heart contracts and the pressure is at its greatest. When the heart relaxes between beats, the pressure drops and the diastolic pressure is recorded.

The American Diabetes Association defines hypertension for people with diabetes as either a systolic blood pressure of 130 mm Hg or higher or a diastolic blood pressure of 80 mm Hg or more, on two consecutive doctor visits. A second reading is necessary because one’s blood pressure tends to fluctuate depending on exercise, sleep, time of day, and emotional state.

 *Adapted from Diabetes Forecast Online: http://forecast.diabetes.org*

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Entry filed under: Diabetes, Health, Healthy Lifestyle. Tags: , , .

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