Blood pressure in diabetes

By Alex Gianfrancesco, PharmD Resident Pharmacist, University of Rhode Island Mar 11, 2022 • 6 min

A majority of people with diabetes also have a condition called hypertension, or high blood pressure. Hypertension, like diabetes, has the potential to lead to the development of other health conditions. This is why your provider will check to see if your blood pressure is well controlled, especially if you have diabetes.

Why is blood pressure important?

A well-controlled blood pressure is one that is equal to or lower than the number recommended by guidelines. For most people, you can expect the goal for the top number to be less than 120–140 and for the bottom number to be less than 80–90, depending on your age and the guideline your provider follows.  At each checkup, your provider will take your blood pressure and discuss which "number" is best for you.

What medications treat high blood pressure and kidneys?

If you have both diabetes and high blood pressure, your provider may start you on a medication that will help to protect your kidneys. Diabetes and high blood pressure can cause other medical conditions to develop. Kidney disease is a condition that can be caused by either diabetes or high blood pressure. There are medications, known as angiotensin-converting enzyme orACE-inhibitors" and angiotensin receptor blockers "ARBs," that are used primarily to lower blood pressure, but have the added benefit of protecting your kidneys from potential damage. 

In addition to these two types of high blood pressure medications, there are other blood pressure medications that can be used to treat high blood pressure, including medications like furosemide, hydrochlorothiazide and amlodipine besylate. The ultimate goal is to lower blood pressure in whatever way works best for you. In some cases, you may have to take more than one type of high blood pressure medication to obtain good control. This will be a discussion you have with your provider at the time of prescribing. Don’t be surprised if it takes a few tries to find the right medication or combination of medications for you.

Are there other ways to lower blood pressure and high blood sugar?

Besides taking medication, there are other ways to lower blood pressure and high blood sugar. Some things you can do include:

  • Eat better: Less salt, more fresh foods! Try to cut back the amount of salt you eat, while also trying to increase the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and fiber in your diet.
  • Drink more water: For the average person, the recommended amount of water per day is about 8 full glasses. A full glass is considered to be 8 ounces of fluid. Try keeping a glass of water around throughout the day as a reminder to drink.
  • Exercise regularly: Get up and stay active! The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends 30 minutes per day of "aerobic" activity about 5 times per week (e.g., walking, hiking, swimming, running).
  • Quit smoking: Smoking can be the culprit of many health-related issues, including increasing blood pressure. Reducing the number of cigarettes you smoke or quitting altogether will always have a positive effect on your health. If you feel you are ready to quit smoking, consult your pharmacist—they can discuss the available options with you.
  • Limit alcohol: Like smoking, alcohol can lead to many health-related problems, one of which is high blood pressure. It is recommended to limit intake to two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women. One drink is considered to be 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of hard liquor (e.g., vodka).

The examples listed above are just a few of the lifestyle changes that may contribute to lowering blood pressure and blood sugar, if done safely. Always consult your primary care provider before making any changes to your current diet and exercise routine to make sure it is appropriate and safe for you to do.

Clinically reviewed and updated, March 2022

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