Around the world, diabetes has become a common health issue. Among the complications of diabetes, the risk of developing high blood pressure is twice as likely. In fact, diabetes and high blood pressure often go together, and are referred to as the ‘Vicious Twins’, says Dr Sujoy Ghosh, professor, department of endocrinology, Institute of Post Graduate Medical Education & Research, Kolkata.
The doctor explains that in type-2 diabetes, there is insulin resistance that causes sugar to build up in the blood. This stimulates the production of more insulin which, in turn, causes the body to retain salt and fluids, thereby increasing the risk of developing high blood pressure.
“Another factor is that over time, diabetes causes damage to the small blood vessels in the body and stiffens their walls leading to high blood pressure. When both high blood pressure and type-2 diabetes are present, there is a higher risk of a heart attack or stroke as also other complications such as kidney disease and retinopathy. Hence, it is important to control the high blood pressure as well as the blood sugar,” Dr Ghosh warns.
He adds that for diabetics, a lower BP may provide greater protection against stroke, making it imperative to regularly monitor blood pressure along with checking blood sugar levels and making lifestyle changes. “While it would be advisable to get blood pressure checked at a doctor’s clinic, it may not be practically feasible on a regular basis. Just as one can keep track of one’s blood sugar at home using compact blood glucose meters, there are digital BP monitors available that allow one to easily measure blood pressure at home.”
The doctor says there are some practical steps to take to ensure the BP is in check and that the readings come out accurate:
– Measuring blood pressure at the same time under the same conditions every day.
– Sitting calmly for five minutes prior to measuring.
– Not smoking, eating, exercising or drinking tea, coffee or any caffeinated drinks at least half an hour prior to taking the reading.
– Ensuring the bladder is empty, since a full bladder can exaggerate the readings.
– Using a BP cuff of the correct size and positioning it correctly on the bare arm above the elbow and securing it tightly.
– Sitting up posture with legs uncrossed and feet flat on the floor with arms supported at the level of the heart. And, no movement during the measurement.
– One should also take three readings with the average of the last two measurements considered as the blood pressure reading.
“These simple measures can go a long way in ensuring accurate BP measurement at home. Since the pandemic has led to a rise in telemedicine, home measurement of BP is important for physicians to effectively treat high blood pressure. Together, with regular blood sugar monitoring, this will ensure correct treatment for both diabetes and high blood pressure,” the doctor concludes.