"B" Is for Blood Pressure

Blood pressure and diabetes

Your blood pressure should be checked every time you visit your health care provider.

What does my blood pressure mean?

Your blood pressure checks how hard your heart has to work to pump blood to your body. It is written as 1 number over another.

The number on top is the systolic blood pressure: This is the pressure in the arteries when the heart pumps out blood. The number on the bottom is the diastolic blood pressure: This is the pressure in the arteries when the heart relaxes between beats.

Why is controlling blood pressure important?

Many people with diabetes have high blood pressure. High blood pressure can damage your blood vessels. It may also lead to health problems over time.

Diabetes and high blood pressure increase the risk of

Control your blood pressure. If it is high, lowering your blood pressure will help lower your chance of heart attack and stroke.

What is an appropriate blood pressure goal for a person with diabetes?

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) suggests a blood pressure goal of lower than 140/80 millimeters of mercury, or mmHg, for many people with diabetes. However, your health care provider will set a blood pressure target that is right for you.

Ask your health care provider what your blood pressure should be.

Write in the space below what your blood pressure is now. Then write what it should be. This is your blood pressure target.

My Blood Pressure Target

My Blood Pressure Now

My Blood Pressure Target



How can I get to my blood pressure goal?

If you have high blood pressure, talk to your health care provider. Ask what changes you need to make.

  1. Use less salt and eat low-sodium or low-salt foods.
    • A healthy meal plan with less salt can help you control your blood pressure.
    • Limit your salt intake to no more than 2,300 mg each day if you have diabetes. For people with both diabetes and high blood pressure, further reduction in sodium intake should be individualized.
    Ask your health care provider for help choosing the right foods.
  2. Lose weight if you are overweight.
    Some people with high blood pressure can get down to their blood pressure goal by losing weight. Two things you can do to help lose weight or prevent weight gain include:
    • Consult a registered dietitian for help in planning meals and lowering the fat and calorie content of your diet to reach and maintain a healthy weight.
    • Increase your physical activity. Talk to your health care provider before making changes.
    Ask your health care provider what a good weight is for you.
  3. Be more active.
    Try to do a total of at least 150 minutes per week of aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, spread over 3 or more days a week. If you are just starting out, start with 5 minutes a day and gradually add more time.

    Always talk to your health care provider before beginning any exercise program.

    Ask your health care provider
    • How many days of the week should I do this activity?
    • How long should I do this activity each time?
    Use the spaces below to write down the types of physical activity that are right for you, as discussed with your health care provider.

    Activity Chart

    Type of Activity

    Times per Week

    For How Long
















  4. Stop smoking.
    One of the most important changes you can make in your life is to stop using tobacco. Quitting can be hard, but it is worth it.
    • Quit smoking. Ask for help if you need it.
    • Talk with your health care provider about methods to help you stop smoking.
  5. Limit alcohol.
    Talk with your health care provider about
    • Whether it's okay to drink alcoholic beverages.
    • If and when you drink alcoholic beverages, limit yourself to 1 serving a day or less for women or 2 servings a day or less for men.
  6. Take your blood pressure medicines as instructed by your health care provider.
    If your blood pressure is high, ask your health care provider whether any of your medicines may be the cause.

Always ask your health care provider if you have questions or concerns about any medicine.

The next section talks about controlling the fats in your blood.

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