Diabetes Under Pressure

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Nearly 30 million people around the country are struggling to live with it and one-third of them aren’t even aware they have it.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1.4 million people are diagnosed with diabetes every year, a condition in which the body does not properly process food for use as energy. Because of this disease, a sugar buildup occurs in the body as it cannot create the necessary amount of insulin to absorb the sugar into its cells for energy.

Diabetes can cause serious health complications, including heart disease, blindness, kidney failure, and, if necessary, amputation and limb removal, according to the CDC.

If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, you’ve probably already started counting carbs and exercising more just to keep your blood sugar stable. However, even with exercising and dieting, you may be neglecting another, often silent problem that can go hand-in-hand with diabetes: high blood pressure. Also known as hypertension, the condition occurs in as many as two-thirds of people with diabetes.

According to the Cleveland Clinic website, hypertension occurs when the pressure in your arteries that distribute blood throughout your body is higher than normal. In most cases, no one knows what causes high blood pressure and most people who have it aren’t aware they do unless they get a diagnosis from a doctor.

If you have been diagnosed with both conditions, your risk of blood vessel damage increases as the heart has to work harder to pump blood into your body, heightening the likelihood of multiple complications, such as heart attack, stroke, or kidney failure. If both conditions are unmanaged, the risk is even greater.

Nearly one in three American adults has high blood pressure and two in three people with diabetes report having high blood pressure or take prescription medications to lower their blood pressure, according to the CDC.

If you believe you are at risk for either of these complications, the first thing you should do is get tested by your local doctor. Should you be diagnosed with either, your doctor will warn you about any unhealthy behaviors to avoid.

These behaviors include smoking tobacco, as smoking causes blood vessels to constrict, raising blood pressure and releasing hormones that work against insulin.

Also, consuming large amounts of alcohol often increases blood pressure. The CDC recommends drinking one drink daily, roughly 12 ounces of beer if you suffer from hypertension.

To lower your high blood pressure and maintain a healthy lifestyle, the CDC recommends you skip processed foods and increase your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats.

Regularly taking your medication for diabetes and high blood pressure will also help, as they help relax blood vessels. Exercising for at least 150 minutes per week to boost your cardiovascular health and help maintain your weight.

Remember to consult with your doctor to get yourself tested for diabetes and to get your blood pressure checked. It could save your life.