Recommended blood pressure targets for diabetics may raise stroke and heart attack complications. The Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare recently raised the recommended blood pressure readings for patients with diabetics from 130 mm Hg to 140 mm Hg.
The revision is based on the premise that high blood pressure is not the only problem for diabetics, and low blood pressure – below 130 mm Hg – poses a threat as well. However, the researchers found that the lower the blood pressure the fewer the cases of stroke and heart attack there were.
One of the researchers Staffan Björck explained, “We believe that the recommendation to accept higher blood pressure in patients with diabetes is incorrect. It may lead to more cases of stroke and myocardial infarction in this patient group.”
The study was based on data collected from the National Diabetes Register, the Patient Register, and the Prescribed Drug Register. Data from over 187,000 patients was collected during a five-year period.
Primary author of the study Samuel Adamsson Eryd explained, “What we have seen in our study is that, if we exclude individuals with previous severe disease, then the connection between low blood pressure and increased risk of stroke and myocardial infarction disappears.”
“If patients with diseases that can cause low blood pressure are also included in a study, the overall interpretation might be that low blood pressure leads to more cardiovascular disease,” added Björck.
Blood pressure is a worldwide problem, so the guidelines for healthy blood pressure become an international discussion. Because of the large size of this study, it offers useful insight on healthy blood pressure recommendations overall.
Treatment and prevention of blood pressure in patients with diabetes
Treating and preventing blood pressure in diabetes patients is quite easy because the two conditions share many risk factors, so the same tactics can work to improve blood pressure all the while preventing or better managing diabetes.
A healthy lifestyle is your best course of action to lower the risk of elevated blood pressure and diabetes.
The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute recommends limiting the amount of sodium — salt — and alcohol that you consume, maintaining a healthy weight, and being committed to routine physical activity. Managing stress also improves physical and emotional health.
Diet-specific tips to treat and prevent hypertension in diabetes include eating more fruits and vegetables, switching to low-fat dairy products, choosing lean meats and fish, using low-fat cooking methods like baking or grilling, eating more fruit, eating more whole foods, limiting or avoiding processed foods, switching to whole grains, eating smaller meals, and never skipping breakfast.
Lastly, it’s important that you quit smoking if you are a smoker. Smoking can damage your blood vessels and raise your risk for high blood pressure, along with further aggravating related health concerns.
By opting for a healthier lifestyle, you can have greater success in treating and preventing high blood pressure in diabetes all the while better managing your diabetes, too.