• Richard Kadri-Langford

The relationship between high blood pressure and diabetes

September 5th is known for a number of reasons, and perhaps obscurely, it has been designated by someone as international ‘be late for something’ day. That this 'important' milestone is immediately followed by international ‘fight procrastination’ day perhaps says more about how we live our lives than we would like to admit.

But September 5th is also known for another reason and it is one that we certainly can’t afford to procrastinate about. It’s the start of ‘know your numbers’ week; a campaign which encourages people to check their blood pressure and to do something about it if their readings are too high.[1]

Known as the silent killer, high blood pressure may well not show itself until someone has a heart attack or stroke. By then it is too late. And yet, caught early enough, high blood pressure can be reduced either by undertaking changes to lifestyles or through taking daily medication.

Some of those lifestyle changes are the ones we know we ought to make anyway; losing weight, stopping smoking, eating less salt, and becoming more active. And in truth, taking some of those steps could help to prevent blood pressure from soaring in the first place. Most importantly, those who make lifestyle changes early on to prevent or stave off high blood pressure can also reduce the chance of developing diabetes. One study found that there was an “11% reduction in the risk of new-onset type 2 diabetes per 5 mm Hg lower systolic blood pressure.”[2]

That leads us to the importance of being aware of the potential link between certain conditions and high blood pressure. A family history of high blood pressure, sleep apnea, or kidney disease can all be warning signs. The change in hormonal balance post menopause can also lead to an increased risk.

As mentioned above there is also a strong link between diabetes and high blood pressure. So much so that those with diabetes are twice as likely to have high blood pressure as the rest of the population.[3] That’s why Diabetes UK recommends that those with diabetes have their blood pressure checked at least once a year.[4]

And for those who might be tempted to think that their reading is only a little over and maybe could be ignored for a while the Diabetes UK site has a handy chart which clearly sets out low, normal, pre-high, and high readings. Procrastination might be OK in some areas of our lives but not knowing your numbers and failing to act on them is not one of those times.


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