September 28, 2022

Does Diabetes Cause High Blood Pressure?: Understanding Between High Blood Pressure and Diabetes

If you’re wondering, “can diabetes cause high blood pressure?” or “how can I control high blood pressure with diabetes?,” read on for all the answers you need.

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Home / Living with Diabetes / Does Diabetes Cause High Blood Pressure?: Understanding Between High Blood Pressure and Diabetes

Unfortunately, diabetes can come with numerous complications, including high blood pressure. Roughly two out of every three people with diabetes experience high blood pressure or take medication to control this condition. 

While high blood pressure can be hard to detect, it can result in its own complications. These include everything from an enlarged heart to worsening diabetes symptoms. If you’re wondering, “can diabetes cause high blood pressure?” or “how can I control high blood pressure with diabetes?,” read on for all the answers you need. 

What is high blood pressure? 

High blood pressure is essentially what it sounds like – a condition where the blood traveling through the heart and veins has excessive force. If that goes on for long enough, it can tire your heart out and even cause this organ to expand. 

 If you have high blood pressure, this situation won’t resolve itself. Instead, you’ll need to take steps to bring your blood pressure back under control – whether you have diabetes or not. 

Can diabetes cause high blood pressure? 

The connection between diabetes and high blood pressure is no coincidence. One potential diabetes complication, which is known as atherosclerosis, can damage and harden arteries. That, in turn, can result in high blood pressure. 

 If you have diabetes, your healthcare provider should tell you what your goal should be, this is based on and individual basis. . The first number in your blood pressure reading is your systolic pressure (your blood pressure when the heart is actively pumping), and the second number is your diastolic pressure (your blood pressure between heartbeats). 

What are the symptoms of high blood pressure? 

One of the trickiest parts of diagnosing high blood pressure is that it often lacks telltale symptoms. If your blood pressure is extra-high, you may experience blurred vision, headaches, or dizziness. However, that may not be much help: all three of these symptoms can also be caused by diabetes. 

 Since high blood pressure symptoms are usually subtle and are easy to confuse with the symptoms of other conditions, everyone should have their blood pressure tested at least once every two years. Because of the connection between diabetes and high blood pressure, you should go through these tests more often if you have type 1 or 2 diabetes.  

adult receiving type-1 diabetes diagnosis

What are the risk factors of high blood pressure? 

Diabetes isn’t the only blood pressure risk factor to know about. These factors can also increase your likelihood of having high blood pressure: 

  • A family history of high blood pressure 
  • Using tobacco 
  • Drinking too much alcohol 
  • Obesity 
  • A low level of physical activity 
  • Eating an unhealthy diet – especially one with high amounts of sodium 

What are the risk factors between diabetes and high blood pressure? 

Type 1 diabetes 

In type 1 diabetes, your immune system attacks the pancreas cells that handle insulin production. That means you can’t produce the insulin you need on your own and have to rely on insulin injections instead. 

Insulin plays a pivotal role in your body’s regular operation – it allows your cells to access the glucose in your blood. Without insulin, that glucose continues to build up in your bloodstream. Along with the other problems linked to type 1 diabetes, that sugar-filled blood can damage your veins, possibly leading to high blood pressure. 

Type 2 diabetes 

People with type 2 diabetes are not strangers to high blood pressure, either. This disease is the result of heightened insulin resistance in the body. Since cells require a higher-than-average amount of insulin to access glucose, the pancreas must work harder to meet these needs.  

The increased insulin production associated with type 2 diabetes doesn’t just affect blood sugar. Having extra insulin in your body means it will hang on to salt and fluids longer – and, of course, salt is closely associated with high blood pressure. Type 2 diabetes can also damage your small blood vessels, making the situation even worse. 

Gestational diabetes 

While gestational diabetes often goes away after childbirth, this condition can cause severe complications if left alone. As is the case for other forms of diabetes, one of these complications is high blood pressure. 

Tips for lowering blood pressure 

If you take your blood pressure seriously, you can make a great deal of progress towards reducing it with simple lifestyle changes. Reducing your systolic blood pressure by 10 points could lower your risk of all other diabetes complications by 12 percent. 

To lower your blood pressure, start by: 

  • Using acetaminophen instead of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs 
  • Not smoking 
  • Drinking in moderation 
  • Following a diabetes diet 
  • Eating two grams of salt or less daily 
  • Losing excess weight 
  • Getting more physical activity 
  • Checking your blood pressure regularly 

Treatments for lowering blood pressure 

If you need blood pressure medication, your healthcare team will likely use ACE inhibitors or ARBs as the first line of defense. These medicines can help control blood pressure while lowering your risk of kidney disease. You may also want to use diuretics to help remove extra fluid. 

 Other blood pressure drugs may be less helpful, as they can increase your levels of lipids and blood glucose. Erectile dysfunction is another potential side effect of blood pressure medications. Be sure to talk to your doctor about the side effects associated with your blood pressure drugs. 

 Since high blood pressure is linked to elevated blood sugar levels, it’s wise to keep track of your glucose levels throughout the day. To do that, you’ll need to use a glucose meter and associated supplies. You may also want to keep a closer eye on your glucose levels with a continuous glucose monitor system. For these items and more, look no further than US MED!

Shirley DeLeon Certified Diabetes Care & Education Specialist

Medical Review by Shirley DeLeon, Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist

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