Heart Disease and Diabetes: What’s the Connection?

Did you know that heart disease and diabetes often coexist? Yes, many diabetics can also develop heart problems. However, this does not mean that all diabetics will develop heart disease. Simple precautions to be taken are effective in this regard. You can find more information below. 

heart disease and diabetes

Being diabetic is not easy. But if you also get heart disease, it’s like getting two punches! Having diabetes doubles your chances of developing heart disease. What’s more, you’re more likely to have heart disease earlier and more severely than someone who doesn’t have diabetes. The good news is that you can tackle the odds and live a healthy life by taking steps to prevent and manage both conditions.

How are diabetes and heart disease linked?

Heart disease and diabetes are so closely linked that there is a condition called diabetic heart disease . In diabetes, your blood sugar (glucose) is too high. High blood sugar harms your body in many ways, including causing problems with your heart.

Diabetes increases your risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) , diabetic cardiomyopathy , and heart failure . CHD is usually caused by a buildup of cholesterol in the walls of the arteries that supply blood to your heart. Over time, this narrows or clogs your coronary arteries and increases your risk of heart attack. Having high blood sugar makes CHD more likely and more serious as it damages your arteries and can contribute to high cholesterol levels.

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Having diabetes and CHD can damage your heart muscle. This effect is even worse if you also have high blood pressure . Diabetic cardiomyopathy is damage that affects the structure and function of your heart and can lead to heart failure. Heart failure is when your heart muscle becomes too weak to pump enough blood around your body.

Who gets heart disease and diabetes?

Having a certain set of problems called metabolic syndrome increases your risk of developing both type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Your chances of having a heart attack are doubled if you have three or more metabolic risk factors, including:

  • High triglycerides: 150 mg/dL or higher
  • Low HDL or “good” cholesterol: 40 mg/dL in men, from a peak of 50 mg/dL in women
  • High blood sugar level: 100 mg/dL or higher when fasting
  • Wide waistline: 40 inches and more for men or 35 inches and more for women
  • Hypertension: 130 mm Hg or higher for the upper limit and/or 85 mm Hg or higher for the lower limit

Other risk factors for heart disease and diabetes include a sedentary lifestyle and an eating habit high in saturated fat and sugar.

What can I do to lower my risk of both diseases?

You can take responsibility for your health to prevent and manage both diabetes and heart disease. The sooner you start taking the following steps, the better:

  • Get a check-up: Visit your doctor regularly to catch minor issues before they get bigger. Having regular check-ups can detect many health problems before they progress.
  • Quit smoking: Your doctor is a great resource for advice on the best smoking cessation programs and medications. Another great resource for quitting smoking is the 171 Quit Smoking Line .
  • Cut back on salt and fat: Eat less salt and fat to help lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Good options include lean meats, low-fat dairy products, whole grains, fresh fruits and fresh vegetables. Keep cholesterol in your diet below 300 mg per day and limit processed foods.
  • Get an A1C test: This test measures the average blood sugar level over the past three months in people with diabetes. Doctors usually recommend keeping your level below 7%.
  • Exercise: Get 30 minutes of moderate exercise five to seven days a week. Choosing fun activities that you enjoy will make your job easier. This may include sports such as golf or basketball, or more relaxing activities such as hiking or biking on a nature trail. You can ask your doctor what type of exercise is best for you.
  • Keep your weight low: Ask your doctor what your ideal weight goal should be and how to get there.
  • Limit alcohol: One alcoholic drink per day for women and two per day for men in moderation is ideal, but it’s better not to drink at all. If you already have diabetes, your doctor may recommend that you drink even less alcohol.
  • Take your medications regularly: Take your medications as directed, including those that lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar. Ask your doctor if taking a daily aspirin is right for you.
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