Some people think that managing diabetes is only about blood sugar control. But did you know that managing your blood pressure is just as important as managing your blood sugar when you have diabetes?
Blood pressure control is an important (and sometimes overlooked) part of your diabetes ABCs—A1C blood sugar, Blood pressure, and Cholesterol. Working to reach the blood pressure targets recommended by your doctor can help prevent heart attack, stroke, and blood vessel problems that can lead to other serious health issues.
This can seem overwhelming, but you don’t have to do it alone. Friends and family are also a key part of your diabetes care. With their help, you can make managing your blood pressure easier and enjoyable, too.
Your Friends and Family Plan
Here are some ways you can involve others in your diabetes care.
Start a weight loss plan with a friend.
If you are overweight, studies find that losing as little as 3% to 7% of your body weight can lower your chance of developing health problems linked to diabetes, including high blood pressure. Tell a friend or co-worker that you’re trying to lose weight. You may find that someone you know wants to lose weight with you.
Choose healthy recipes together and cook together.
Sometimes, people who have diabetes feel they have to cook one meal for themselves and another for their family. However, healthy meals for you—low in salt and saturated fat, and high in nutrients—are healthy meals for everyone. Ask family members to pick their favorite recipes. Family members may eat different amounts or add other foods, but the basic meals you prepare together can be the same.
Walk with a friend or co-worker.
Exercise can help you lose weight and control your blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol, too. If you haven’t walked in a while, start by walking 5 to 10 minutes a day. Then slowly work up to 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. Ask a co-worker to walk with you during your lunch break. Or you can make walking time to catch up with a friend.
Ask others to be your medicine check.
The medicines your doctor prescribes for you to manage blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol only work their best if you take them as directed. It can be hard to remember to take your medicine. Ask a family member to help you fill pill boxes. Or ask a tech savvy teenager to help you set reminders on your smartphone. You can also link the time you take your medicines each day to common everyday activities, such as when you sit down with family to watch evening TV or when you put your child to bed.
If you smoke, join a quit smoking group.
Quitting smoking is directly linked to lowering your blood pressure. If you are trying to quit, talking to people who are going through the same challenges can be a big source of support. Your healthcare provider or Rite Aid Pharmacist can also help. They can tell you about different prescription and nonprescription medicines, and help you find support groups or quit smoking programs such as Rite Aid’s “Quit For You ” program.
When you invite friends and family to help you manage your diabetes, you can motivate them to adopt a healthier lifestyle too. Lifestyle changes that are good for you will also be good for others. You and your close ones can make fun memories while sharing lifelong healthy habits.
American Diabetes Association Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes 2015, Diabetes Care 2015; 38(Suppl 1):S77-S79. http://professional.diabetes.org/admin/UserFiles/0%20-%20Sean/Documents/January%20Supplement%20Combined_Final.pdf
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Guide to Quitting Smoking, American Cancer Society http://www.cancer.org/healthy/stayawayfromtobacco/guidetoquittingsmoking/guide-to-quitting-smoking-benefits
High Blood Pressure, American Diabetes Association
Update on Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease in Adults With Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus in Light of Recent Evidence: A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association. Circulation. 2015;132:691-718.