High blood pressure adds double danger for diabetes sufferers

HALF of those with diabetes in the UK also have high blood pressure, which can have “hugely damaging” consequences, says a leading charity.

Diabetes UK said the most recent figures, taken from a national audit of more than two million people with the condition, show that just 50 per cent are meeting their blood pressure target – the same proportion as in the previous year. The charity is also concerned that not enough is being done once a diabetes sufferer has been diagnosed with high blood pressure, which increases the chance of serious repercussions.

Chief executive Barbara Young said: “Given the link between blood pressure and diabetes-related complications such as stroke, kidney failure and heart disease, it is extremely worrying that half of people with diabetes have high blood pressure.

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“People with diabetes need to be aware that high blood pressure can have a hugely damaging effect on their health. But, instead, we are in danger of high blood pressure becoming the norm in people with the condition and this is one of the reasons they are experiencing record rates of stroke and kidney failure and are dying years younger than the rest of the population.

“We need to get the message across that if you have diabetes then not only should you be aware of your blood pressure, but if it is high then reducing it should be one of your top priorities.

“But it is also important that healthcare professionals realise that measuring the blood pressure of people with diabetes is the start of the process rather than the end of it. Once people with high blood pressure are identified, healthcare professionals then need to work with that person to bring it down to an acceptable level., giving whatever support is needed throughout the year.”

Audit information from more than two million people with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, collected in 2009/10, was analysed by Diabetes UK. The figure has not greatly improved from the previous year, when 50 per cent of people met the target. In contrast, 30 per cent of the general population is thought to have high blood pressure – although the target for diabetes sufferers is lower than for those without the condition.

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A recent Diabetes UK survey showed that nine per cent of the 2.9 million people in the UK who have diabetes receive an annual blood pressure check. For someone without diabetes, blood pressure should be no higher than 140/85 but for those with the condition, no higher than 130/80.

A Department of Health spokesman said: "High blood pressure brings increased risk of complications for people with diabetes. It is therefore vital that doctors, nurses and other health professionals make sure patients get the nine health care checks recommended every year, and that any causes for concern are dealt with promptly. Diabetic patients who have high blood pressure should also get advice and treatment to help them manage the condition that fits with their lifestyle. We can all reduce our risk of high blood pressure by quitting smoking, eating healthily and doing regular physical activity."

Blood pressure can be improved by stopping smoking; following a balanced diet; being the correct weight for your height; drinking less alcohol and avoiding binge drinking; reducing salt intake; taking regular exercise and reducing stress levels. If these lifestyle changes are not enough you may also need medication.