Two measurable, state-of-health indicators are your blood pressure and blood sugar levels. In view of the fact that both measurements are blood-related, it will come as no surprise that there’s a connection between health conditions associated with each. Before delving into this relationship, it’s a good idea to know a bit about these health gauges.
Blood Pressure Basics
The measurable force of blood being pushed against artery walls indicates whether or not your blood pressure is within a healthy range. This is important to your health for determining the primary health risk associated with high blood pressure levels: hypertension. If the force of the blood against your artery walls is chronically high, health problems such as heart disease and stroke can result.
Blood pressure can be measured at a medical facility, pharmacy or even at home. Most people have experienced the cuff of a blood pressure monitor as it squeezes the upper arm and then slowly releases the tension before the reading is revealed. Measured in units of millimeters of mercury (mm Hg), blood pressure is indicated by an upper and a lower number.
The upper number determines the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats and pumps blood: systolic pressure. The lower number indicates arterial pressure when your heart is at rest between beats: diastolic pressure. According to the American Heart Association, a normal blood pressure reading is less than 120 mm Hg for systolic pressure and less than 80 mm Hg for diastolic pressure.
Blood Sugar Basics
The source of energy for every cell in your body comes primarily from blood sugar, which is derived from the breakdown of carbohydrates in your dietary intake. The measurable amount of glucose circulating in the bloodstream determines whether or not your blood sugar levels are within a healthy range.
Most health care practitioners use the basic metabolic panel (BMP) as the go-to test for measuring the amounts of a number of substances in your blood, including glucose. High blood sugar levels indicate the risk, onset or presence of type 2 diabetes.
Three tests designed specifically for measuring blood sugar are the fasting glucose test, the random glucose test and the A1c test. Those at risk of developing type 2 diabetes or people living with this metabolic disorder can monitor their levels at home by using a blood sugar meter. Blood glucose is measured as milligrams of sugar per deciliter (mg/dL) of blood [or millimoles of sugar per liter (mmol/L) of blood].
- Normal: less than 100 mg/dL (5.6 mmol/L)
- Prediabetes: 100 to 125 mg/dL (5.6 to 6.9 mmol/L)
- Diabetes: 126 mg/dL (7.0 mmol/L) or higher on two separate tests
Blood Relationship of Pressure and Sugar
The hormone responsible for regulating blood sugar is insulin, which channels glucose into cells for energy purposes. Diabetes results from the body not being able to produce enough insulin or insulin resistance, when the body does not respond properly to this hormone and keeps producing more insulin to compensate the imbalance.
Insulin also inhibits the production of nitric oxide, a gas that helps lower blood pressure by relaxing and widening blood vessels. When the body produces more insulin due to insulin resistance, it can also contribute to blocking the body’s natural production of nitric oxide, causing blood vessel stiffness and a rise in blood pressure levels.
People with diabetes may end up with high blood pressure and vice versa. In other words, if you have one condition, you are at an increased risk for developing the other. And having both conditions can make the other even worse.
It is interesting to note that this relationship by blood can be prevented by following the same lifestyle factors:
- Primarily plant-based diet
- Regular physical activity
- Healthy weight management
and if applicable,
- Limit alcohol intake
- Stop smoking
Of course, the above lifestyle choices work for the prevention of all types of ill health, but are particularly important for those negatively impacted by this blood pressure-blood sugar connection.