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Diabetes: Keep an eye out for high blood pressure

Diabetes and high blood pressure can each damage your health on their own, but together they are especially risky.

If you have diabetes, you probably know that taking care of yourself doesn't stop with checking your blood sugar. There are other steps you need to take to stay healthy, and one of the most important is getting checked for high blood pressure.

According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), as many as 2 out of 3 adults with diabetes also have high blood pressure.

A dangerous combination

Having diabetes and high blood pressure together can mean trouble. Both can raise the risk for heart disease and stroke, according to the ADA. And having high blood pressure makes other conditions that can happen with diabetes, such as diseases of the eyes, kidneys and nerves, even more likely.

To make matters worse, high blood pressure has no symptoms, so many people don't know they have it.

Defusing the problem

Start by having your blood pressure checked—at every office visit, or at least two to four times a year, says the ADA.

If you need to lower your blood pressure, your doctor may recommend a combination of lifestyle changes and medications. Check with your doctor before starting an exercise program, especially if you haven't been active. Then follow this advice from the ADA:

  • Get at least 30 minutes of exercise, such as brisk walking, most days of the week.
  • Don't smoke.
  • Lose weight if you're overweight.
  • Know the risks of alcohol.
  • Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains every day.
  • Cut down on the amount of salt in your diet.

Your doctor may also prescribe medication such as ACE inhibitors, beta blockers or diuretics. It's important that you take these medicines exactly as recommended.

Once you get your blood pressure under control, stay with the program. You'll also be reducing your risk for heart disease and stroke. And the lifestyle changes will make you feel better all around.

reviewed 10/22/2019

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