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Diabetes and Heart Disease

How Does Heart Disease Cause High Blood Pressure?

Narrowed blood vessels leave a smaller opening for blood to flow through. It is like turning on a garden hose and holding your thumb over the opening. The smaller opening makes the water shoot out with more pressure. In the same way, narrowed blood vessels lead to high blood pressure. Other factors can also lead to high blood pressure (also called hypertension), such as:
  • Kidney problems
  • Being overweight.
Many people with diabetes also have high blood pressure. If you have heart, eye, or kidney problems from diabetes, high blood pressure can make them worse.
You will see your blood pressure written with two numbers separated by a slash, for example: 120/70. Keep your first number below 130 and your second number below 80.
If you have high blood pressure, ask your doctor how to lower it. Your doctor may ask you to take blood pressure medicine every day. Some types of blood pressure medicine can also help keep your kidneys healthy.
To lower blood pressure, your doctor may ask you to:
  • Lose weight
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables
  • Eat less salt and high-sodium foods (such as canned soups, salty snack foods, and fast foods)
  • Drink less alcohol.

Diabetes and Heart Disease: Tips for Prevention

People with diabetes can do a lot to prevent heart disease and stroke. Some suggestions include the following:
  • Keep your blood glucose under control. You can learn if it is under control by having a hemoglobin A1c test at least twice a year. The hemoglobin A1c test tells you your average blood glucose for the past two to three months. The target for most people is below 7.
  • Keep your blood pressure under control. Have it checked at every doctor visit. The target for most people is below 130/80.
  • Keep your cholesterol under control. Have it checked at least once a year. The targets for most people are an LDL ("bad") cholesterol below 100, an HDL ("good") cholesterol above 40 in men and above 50 in women, and a triglyceride level (another type of fat in the blood) below 150.
  • Choose an activity you like and stay active. Make physical activity a part of your daily routine. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week. Check with your doctor to learn what activities are best for you. Take a half-hour walk every day. Or walk for 10 minutes after each meal. Use the stairs instead of the elevator. Park at the far end of the lot.
  • Make sure that you eat heart-healthy foods. Include foods high in fiber, such as oat bran, oatmeal, whole-grain breads and cereals, and fruits and vegetables.
  • Cut back on foods high in saturated fat or cholesterol, such as meats, butter, dairy products with fat, eggs, shortening, lard, and foods with palm oil or coconut oil.
  • Lose weight if you need to. If you are overweight, try to exercise most days of the week. See a registered dietitian for help in planning meals and lowering the fat and calorie content of your diet to reach and maintain a healthy weight.
  • If you smoke, quit. Your doctor can tell you about ways to help you quit smoking.
  • Ask your doctor whether you should take an aspirin every day. Studies have shown that taking a low dose of aspirin every day can help reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • Take your medicines as directed.
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