Did you know that nearly one in four 1199SEIU members has hypertension, also known as high blood pressure? Or that about 11 percent of 1199ers have Type 2 diabetes?

What’s more, these conditions often go hand in hand: Having high blood pressure makes you more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes—and having diabetes increases your chances of being hypertensive. Both can lead to serious health problems, including heart attack, stroke and kidney disease. You can take action to prevent—or control—high blood pressure and diabetes. Here is some important information that you can use to protect your health.

Hypertension

Know Your Risk Factors

  • Smoking
  • Overweight
  • Lack of exercise
  • Family history
  • Diabetes
  • Ethnicity (more common in African-American adults)
  • Increases with age

Know Your Symptoms

Typically, no early warning signs, so make sure that you get your regular screenings

Know Your Numbers

“Normal” blood pressure is 120/80 or lower. Get checked by a medical professional. Blood pressure is measured with two numbers. The first number measures the force of blood flow through your blood vessels when your heart beats (systolic pressure). The second number measures the blood flow when your heart relaxes between beats (diastolic pressure).

Diabetes

Know Your Risk Factors

  • Overweight
  • Lack of exercise
  • Family history
  • Hypertension
  • Ethnicity (more common in African-Americans, Mexican-Americans, Native Americans, Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders and Asian-Americans)
  • Increases with age

Know Your Symptoms

Symptoms may be hard to detect, since they come on slowly, but see your doctor immediately if you experience:

  • Increased hunger, thirst or fatigue
  • Increased urination
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Blurred vision
  • Tingling or numbness in hands or feet

Know Your Numbers

If you have diabetes, the American Diabetes Association suggests an A1C goal of 7. The A1C test measures your average blood sugar level over the past two to three months. But be sure to ask your doctor about what your goal should be. You should also ask your doctor about your blood pressure goal. Most people with diabetes should have blood pressure below 140/90, according to the National Institutes of Health.

What You Can Do Now

The same healthy habits that can lower your blood pressure will also help prevent or manage diabetes by keeping blood sugar in check.

  • Lose weight: If you’re overweight, this is one of the best things you can do. Losing 5 to 7 percent of your total weight can help delay or prevent diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Diabetes Prevention Program. So if you weigh 200 pounds, you would need to lose about 10 to 14 pounds.
  • Move more: Exercise can help with weight loss and boost your overall health. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise, five days a week. Walk, bike, swim—whatever gets you moving—but be sure to talk with your doctor about what exercise is right for you.
  • Eat better: Work more fruit, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and low-fat dairy into your diet with an approach like the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet. For tips on how to get started, including recipes and weekly menu ideas, visit www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/dash/getstarted.

 
Sources: American Diabetes Association, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institutes of Health, MedlinePlus

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