Did you know the leading cause of death around the world is heart disease? And did you know that a person with both diabetes and high blood pressure is four times more likely to develop heart disease than someone without these illnesses? Both conditions are serious health risks and contribute to many illnesses and complications, in addition to heart disease. That’s why it’s important to know your blood pressure numbers and the symptoms of diabetes. Getting checkups early can help prevent or manage both diseases, which can also help you keep your heart and other organs healthy, and avoid a stroke.
Know your blood pressure numbers
A healthy blood pressure is one that rises and falls within normal levels throughout the day, from the moment you wake until you return to bed. However, if your blood pressure remains consistently above normal throughout the day, you may have high blood pressure, also known as hypertension.
Blood pressure is measured using two numbers: Systolic blood pressure measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats; and diastolic blood pressure measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart rests between beats. A health care provider will take your blood pressure using a cuff around your arm.
If your blood pressure measurement reads 120 systolic and 80 diastolic, it would appear in writing as “120/80 mmHg” (120 over 80).
Sometimes, high blood pressure doesn’t have recognizable symptoms. That’s why you should have an idea of what your blood pressure is, just as you know your height and weight. Here are the numbers that tell you if you have normal blood pressure, or are in the high blood pressure range:
- Healthy blood pressure is below 120/80
- Early high blood pressure is between 120/80 and 140/90
- High blood pressure is 140/90 or higher
Regular checkups and screenings can identify risk factors related to high blood pressure and give you a baseline to help you prevent the condition.
Take care of high blood pressure
If you have high blood pressure there are a number of ways you can help lower it. Start by working with your health care provider on a treatment that works for you, which may include medication. Also consider:
- Eating a nutritious diet that includes wholegrain breads and cereals
- Trying herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor foods
- Choosing foods with less than 400 mg of sodium per serving
- Losing weight or taking steps to prevent weight gain
- Limiting alcohol consumption
- Quitting smoking
Get screened for diabetes
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that more than 122 million Americans are living with diabetes or prediabetes, this includes Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Many people may not know they have the disease because symptoms can develop slowly over time.
Diabetes affects how the body turns food into energy. Normally, most food you eat is broken down into sugar (also called glucose) and released into the bloodstream. When your pancreas receives the signal, it produces insulin, the gatekeeper for allowing blood sugar into your cells to be used as energy.
In Type 1 diabetes, your body doesn’t produce insulin. In Type 2 diabetes, your body doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use the insulin as well as it should. The result is too little or too much blood sugar in the blood stream. This condition can develop into serious health issues, such as heart disease, kidney disease and stroke. Diabetes can also contribute to high blood pressure – the double-threat to healthy arteries.
Symptoms of diabetes
Make an appointment with your doctor to get a simple blood test if you have the following symptoms:
- Urinate a lot, often at night
- Feel very thirsty
- Lose weight without trying
- Feel very hungry
- Have blurry vision
- Have numb or tingling hands or feet
- Feel very tired
- Have very dry skin
- Have sores that heal slowly
- Have more infections than usual
Talk to your doctor
Being aware of your health risks is good advice for everyone – whether you’ve been diagnosed with a medical condition, are at risk, or feeling fit. Make an appointment with your doctor for a checkup and screenings.
Whether you require an in-person visit or want to consult with a doctor virtually, you have options. Swedish Virtual Care connects you face-to-face with a nurse practitioner who can review your symptoms, provide instruction and follow-up as needed. If you need to find a doctor, you can use our provider directory.
Find out what we’re doing to keep you safe at www.swedish.org/covid-19.
This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.