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Quality Health Care and You - Diabetes

Diabetes and High Blood Pressure

How Diabetes and High Blood Pressure are Related

There is a strong association between diabetes and high blood pressure (hypertension). A large number of diabetics have high blood pressure, and among hypertensive patients, diabetes is more common than among non-hypertensive patients. This means that patients with diabetes have a greater risk of being hypertensive, and hypertensive patients have a greater risk of being diabetic.

Whether diabetes can cause high blood pressure directly is unclear.  Common precursors of diabetes, which can be accompanied by an increase in blood pressure include the following:

So it is difficult to say how much of the association between diabetes and high blood pressure is cause and effect, and how much is due to the common precursors of diabetes.

Control is Key

Both diabetes and high blood pressure cause vascular disease. So, the combination of diabetes and high blood pressure greatly increases the risk for:

Due to the increased risk of developing these conditions, diabetics should have their blood pressure well controlled.

Blood Pressure Guidelines 

While the limits for high blood pressure in the general population are defined as 140/90, diabetics should have a blood pressure of under 130/80.

For people over age 55, almost all the risk is linked to the systolic blood pressure (the upper number). Therefore, you should keep the upper number under 130 if at all possible. The diastolic pressure (the lower number) usually does not have to be treated separately.


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Last Reviewed: Jun 05, 2008

Professor of Medicine
Director of Hypertension Section
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati