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Are High Blood Pressure and High Blood Sugar the Same?

High blood sugar and high blood pressure can have devastating consequences on a person’s health, well-being, and longevity. 

The question is, how are the two connected, what makes them different, and how can we manage them? 

Let’s discuss. 

What Is High Blood Pressure?

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is when the blood exerts more force against the walls of blood vessels, such as the arteries. The constant stress leads to heart and blood vessel damage, increasing the risk of arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat), heart attack, stroke, and more. 

Elevated blood pressure is when systolic pressure is between 120 and 129, and diastolic pressure is 80 or less. High blood pressure is when these values go over 130 and 80, respectively. 

What is High Blood Sugar?

High blood sugar, also known as hyperglycemia, is when sugar levels in the blood become too high. If left untreated, high blood sugar levels can lead to permanent nerve, organ, blood vessel, and tissue damage. 

Healthy blood sugar levels are: 

  • 4.0 to 5.9 mmol/L before eating 
  • 7.8 mmol/L or less at least 1.5 hours after a meal 

Readings of 7 mmol/L before eating and 8.5 mmol/L within two hours after eating are considered high and could indicate an underlying condition, such as diabetes or prediabetes. 

How One Can Affect the Other

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Despite the differences between high blood sugar and high blood pressure, the two often occur together and fall under the metabolic syndrome umbrella. People with the syndrome are at a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. 

What’s worse is that the two conditions share risk factors: being overweight, leading a sedentary lifestyle, following a Western diet (mostly consuming processed foods), etc. 

The two conditions can also play off one another and worsen your health. For example, high blood sugar is often associated with insulin resistance––a condition where your body’s cells become less responsive to insulin. 

Insulin resistance is also associated with reduced nitric oxide (NO) bioavailability. Nitric oxide is a compound that signals blood vessels to relax, allowing blood to flow more freely and lowering blood pressure. 

How to Improve High Blood Sugar and High Blood Pressure Levels

Getting the proper medical care is of great importance for improving your health and reducing the risk of health complications. 

Still, there are some lifestyle changes you can make to improve blood pressure and blood sugar levels:

1. Get Active

Regular physical activity is a fantastic way to normalize your blood pressure and blood sugar, primarily thanks to the weight loss benefits. 

Losing body fat improves insulin sensitivity, allowing the hormone to transport excess glucose out of the bloodstream. Additionally, improved insulin sensitivity could lead to higher nitric oxide bioavailability, contributing to healthy blood pressure. 

Exercise is also beneficial for using blood glucose for energy, leading to a natural reduction. 

 

2. Eat Mostly Whole Foods

Eating more whole foods is beneficial in many ways. For example: 

      1. Doing so allows you to control your calorie intake better and possibly lose excess weight, which can have a favorable effect on the two measures. 
         
      2. Whole foods provide more fiber, a complex carb form that slows down digestion, leading to a more gradual increase in blood sugar levels following a meal.