Type 2 Diabetes Guide

How Diabetes and Heart Disease Are Related

There is a connection between . Chronic high blood sugar in diabetics leads to narrowed arteries, higher triglycerides, , and lower levels of HDL, the "good" cholesterol. These all lead to increased risk for heart disease, including heart attack and stroke.

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is the most common form of diabetes. Unfortunately, there are many people who have the disease but have not been diagnosed. Diabetes, regardless of type, requires treatment in order to minimize the risk of heart disease and other . Untreated diabetes can lead to more severe atherosclerosis and it may occur at an earlier age.

Another complication occurs when diabetes has also caused . Nerve damage can block or decrease the sensation of pain that would normally occur with a heart attack. As a result, symptoms of the heart attack may not be recognized, and may be thought to be something much less serious, such as an upset stomach.

Minimizing the Risk of Heart Disease

  • If you notice or you are in a higher-risk group (see: ), make an appointment with your doctor to be screened. A simple can determine whether or not you are diabetic.

  • Keep blood glucose levels tightly controlled. A plan will include a , , and in some cases, oral or insulin may also be needed. to make sure they stay within the target range set by your doctor.

  • Improve your cholesterol levels. LDL, or the "bad" cholesterol, should be lowered since it can clog arteries, leading to heart disease. HDL is the "good" cholesterol and it helps to keep your arteries clear.

    You can improve your cholesterol levels by , limiting the amount of high-calorie foods you eat, and leading an active lifestyle. Many cookbooks of "heart-healthy" meals and snacks are available. For some people these steps may not be enough and medications are available to help control cholesterol levels.

  • Keep blood pressure under control. Diabetics are at increased risk for , another risk factor for heart disease. Once again, diet and exercise can help to keep blood pressure in normal ranges. Alcohol consumption should be limited. Medications are also available.

  • Lose weight if you're overweight. People who carry extra abdominal fat are particularly at higher risk for heart disease. However, if you're overweight (regardless of where you carry the extra weight), losing weight will be beneficial. It can help lower high blood pressure and , and increase the body's sensitivity to insulin.

  • Be active. Get regular exercise (check with your doctor first to make sure it's safe). Try to exercise every day, or at least most days of the week. Exercise helps helps to control blood sugar, cholesterol, blood pressure, and aids in weight loss.

  • . Smoking can cause blood vessel damage. Combined with diabetes, it also doubles your risk of developing heart disease.

Diabetes and heart disease are related. Take action to minimize the risk of developing heart disease - even taking regular small steps can make a difference! Your doctor and diabetes educator can help you create an individualized treatment plan to keep your diabetes under control and decrease the risk of diabetes-related complications.



The information on this website is based on our own research and personal experience, and is not a substitute for medical advice. Questions about your health and individual situation should be directed to your doctor.