|90% of Diabetics develop high blood pressure. The results of elevated blood pressure can affect the heart, blood vessels, eyes and kidneys resulting in an increased risk of heart disease, stroke or kidney failure. In order to minimize the risks associated with high blood pressure, we need to achieve the best possible blood pressure control. The Canadian Diabetes Association in their 1998 recommendations suggest a blood pressure below 130/80. If you have Diabetic Kidney disease an even lower goal of 120/75 is suggested.
Blood pressure measurements in the doctor’s office are subject to some errors. Blood pressure values change throughout the day depending on stress, exertion, food etc. It is important to know the average blood pressure because this is what we want to control. It is frequently helpful to be periodically measuring blood pressure at home so that we can get an idea of your true average pressure away from the stresses of the doctor’s office.
Whenever you get blood pressure measurements, which may be available from visiting nurses, pharmacies or clinics, you should write the result in your glucose diary so that it can be reviewed by the doctor. A home blood pressure monitor is also very helpful. I suggest an electronic monitor which pumps up and measures blood pressure on its own, this is easier to use and is less subject to error than the manual blood pressure device which is used with a stethoscope. Either the wrist or arm models are satisfactory (I do not suggest the devices that measure blood pressure in the finger because they are too inaccurate).
The wrist models are convenient because they are easy to apply and use. Blood pressure monitors are available through Sears, Radio Shack or pharmacies. Cost is about $100.
Measurements do not need to be done more than once a day, they are best done in the morning at rest while you are sitting comfortably. Write the results down in your glucose diary in columns so that you can work out an average of the systolic (the highest figure) and the diastolic (the lower figure) to show the doctor at the next visit.
The aim is to achieve average blood pressures within the goals set by the Canadian Diabetes Association (130/85), if you are not achieving this you may need to have medications adjusted.