- Posted August 20, 2014 by
Diabetes and Heart Disease
You may know that diabetics are especially at risk for developing complications that can affect vision, kidney function and impair circulation to the legs and feet. But it’s important to realize that diabetes also increases the risk for diseases which affect the heart.
-> When compared with non-diabetics, diabetics:
-> Have a higher risk of developing heart disease
-> Often develop heart disease earlier in life
-> Often have more severe cases of heart disease
There are two main types of diabetes, type 1 and type 2. In both types, the level of sugar, or glucose, in the blood is too high because there is not enough of a hormone called insulin to turn the glucose into energy. In type 1 diabetes, the body does not make enough insulin. In type 2 diabetes, the body’s cells don’t use the available insulin appropriately. Both types can lead to the development of Diabetic Heart Disease (DHD).
How diabetes affects the heart
Diabetes is a major risk factor for heart disease, like smoking, hypertension and high levels of blood cholesterol. According to CardioVascular Solutions Institute in Bradenton, Florida, type 2 diabetics have a much greater risk of dying from heart disease than non-diabetics. When diabetes occurs in combination with other risk factors, it increases the risk of heart disease even more.
There is a group of five specific risk factors which have been found to increase your risk of developing both coronary heart disease and diabetes. If you have at least three of these risk factors, you have what is called metabolic syndrome. The metabolic risk factors are:
-> Increased waist size: 35 inches or more for women; 40 inches or more for men
-> Increased level of triglycerides (a type of fat in the blood)
-> A low HDL (“good”) cholesterol level
-> Hypertension (high blood pressure)
-> A high fasting blood glucose level
Being obese often changes the way body uses insulin and also produces changes in body fat. These changes seem to lead to the development of metabolic syndrome. People with metabolic syndrome also might develop chronic inflammation which is the way the body responds to injury or illness. This also increases the risk of coronary heart disease and makes metabolic syndrome worse.
Insulin resistance and diabetes
Insulin resistance occurs when the body can't use the insulin it makes to change blood glucose into energy. Type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance leads to the formation of substances in the blood that cause blood clots to form. These clots can then cause blockages in the blood vessels in the heart and can lead to a heart attack.
Hypertension, heart disease and diabetes
High blood pressure and diabetes can cause changes in the structure of your heart, as well as in the way it functions. Heart disease decreases the flow of oxygenated blood to your heart. These three conditions working together are even more detrimental. Your heart has to work harder and over time it becomes weak and can’t work efficiently enough to supply the blood your body needs. The condition that results is known as heart failure.
Controlling your risk
There are some risk factors for developing coronary heart disease you can’t control such as your age, gender and family history. But there are other risk factors you can control. Taking steps to adopt a healthy lifestyle is one of the best things you can do to protect your heart health. Some people with diabetes have been able to take control of their cholesterol and blood pressure simply making changes to their lifestyle.
A Healthy Diet: This includes lots of fruits and vegetables. Also whole grains, lean meats, poultry, fish, beans and fat-free dairy products. Avoid sugar, salt and solid fats and refined grains.
A Healthy Weight: If you’re obese or overweight, consult with your doctor about a weight-loss program.
A Healthy Exercise Program: Regular exercise will help decrease your risk of heart disease and it also helps control blood sugar levels. Talk to your doctor about what kind of kind of exercise is right for you.
Quit Smoking: Consult with your physician for programs and products to help you quit. Avoid secondhand smoke as well.
Manage Stress: Anxiety and stress cause blood vessels to constrict and can elevate your blood pressure. It can also trigger you to overeat or to smoke. Learn techniques to help you cope with stress to improve your emotional and physical well-being.
Medicine: Medication is sometimes a vital part of the treatment plan for heart disease and diabetes. Take your medicine exactly as prescribed, ask questions and tell your doctor about any side effects you may have.