Does Diabetes Cause Heart Disease
The high glucose levels in the blood of people with diabetes can eventually damage blood vessels as well as the nerves that control them.
Body tissues typically use sugar as an energy source. Its stored in the liver as a form of glycogen.
If you have diabetes, sugar can stay in your bloodstream and leak out of the liver into your blood, with subsequent damage to your blood vessels and the nerves that control them.
A blocked coronary artery can slow or stop blood from supplying oxygen and nutrients to your heart. The risk of heart disease increases the longer you have diabetes.
Monitoring blood sugar is an important part of properly managing diabetes. Check levels with a self-monitoring device according to your doctors instructions.
Keep a journal of your levels and bring it to your next medical appointment so that you and your doctor can review it together.
The following are some additional factors that can increase your risk of heart disease if you have diabetes.
Learn To Manage Stress
Managing diabetes is not always easy. Feeling stressed, sad, lonely, or angry is common when you are living with diabetes. You may know what to do to stay healthy but may have trouble sticking with your plan over time. Long-term stress can raise your blood glucose and blood pressure, but you can learn ways to lower your stress. Try deep breathing, gardening, taking a walk, doing yoga, talking with a loved one, working on a hobby, or listening to your favorite music. Learn more about healthy ways to cope with stress.
The Connection Between Diabetes Kidney Disease And Your Heart
You may not think of your kidneys and heart as a connected system, but they are.How? Well, your kidneys are powerful filters that remove toxins from your blood, which is moved through your body through blood vesselsa complex network of arteries, veins and capillarieswhich is part of your cardiovascular system.
T2D can put a lot of stress on both your heart and your kidneys. To stay healthy, its vital for you and your doctor to keep tabs on your risk for problems in both your heart and kidneys and to take care of problems you may have.
But this is good newswith the right care plan, you can manage T2D, heart disease and kidney disease all at once. Whats good for your heart is also good for your kidneys.
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Diabetes And Cardiovascular Risk
As youre most likely aware, if you dont take good care of your type 2 diabetes, you can develop several complications, including heart disease. We dont say that to frighten you or to make you focus on the negative aspects of type 2 diabetes: its simply that cardiovascular complications are possible when you have diabetes, but there are ways that you can work to prevent them.
Cholesterol plays a big part in cardiovascular disease, so when you have diabetes, you need to be particularly vigilant about your cholesterol numbers. Taking good care of your heart is part of taking good care of your diabetes.
Cardiovascular Complications with DiabetesCardiovascular complications are possible long-term macrovascular complications of diabetes, and these complications include heart attacks and strokes.
Routinely high blood glucose levels can cause damage to your blood vessels. Therefore, if you dont have good control of your blood glucose levels on a daily basisif you regularly swing high and lowthen you could be creating long-lasting heart problems.
Again, thats not said to frighten youbut to help you realize the important of monitoring your blood glucose levels and working hard to keep them in your goal ranges. Talk to your doctor about your goal ranges and how you can improve your blood glucose levels on a daily basis.
LDL cholesterol forms plaque, so it stands to reason that the more LDL cholesterol you have in your blood, the more plaque youre likely to create.
How Do Healthcare Professionals Test For Heart Failure
Heart failure is most commonly assessed using medical imaging techniques that allow healthcare professionals to see the heart and assess its function. The most common test associated with heart failure is echocardiography which is a non-invasive, painless ultrasound image of the heart. The echocardiogram can show how thick the heart muscle is and how much blood is pumped out of the left ventricle with each beat. This information can be used to determine whether heart failure involves preserved or reduced ejection fraction.
Other imaging tests include an x-ray, an MRI, and a myocardial perfusion scan. An x-ray can see if the heart is enlarged or if there is fluid in the lungs, two signs of CHF. If your healthcare professional is concerned that there may be damage to the heart muscle or blockages of major blood vessels to the heart muscle, they may recommend an MRI. A myocardial perfusion scan uses a tiny amount of a radioactive substance that allows the heart to be imaged. It can show how well the heart muscle is pumping and areas with poor blood flow. This scan is often done with an exercise stress test .
In addition to these different imaging techniques, healthcare professionals use exercise stress tests as a measure of heart function, blood tests to check for heart failure-associated strain on the kidney and liver, or an electrocardiogram test to look at the hearts electrical activity for signs of a heart attack and to see if the heart rhythm is abnormal.
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How Would I Know I Had One
It can be a challenge. In some cases, you’ll get symptoms after the heart attack, including:
- Feeling very tired
- Heartburn that won’t go away
- Swelling in your legs
- Trouble breathing when you never had it before
Other times, it’s just chance that you find out you had a heart attack. You could go to your doctor months later and just happen to get some tests that show it.
Your doctor can do a few things to check for signs that you’ve had one, such as:
- Blood tests to look for certain proteins that your heart makes when it’s been damaged
- Electrocardiogram , which checks the electrical signals in your heart
- Echocardiogram, a type of ultrasound imaging that looks at the heart
Obesity As A Risk Factor For Cvd
Obesity has long been established as an independent risk factor for CVD , and is associated with CAD , atherosclerosis , and cardiac death . Furthermore, it has been shown that overweight and obesity are highly prevalent in T2DM patients with high CV risk and that BMI and waist circumference are related to major cardiometabolic risk factors such as hypertension and elevated low-density lipoprotein cholesterol .
Obesity is usually defined by body mass index , with the World Health Organization classifying adults with a BMI 30 kg/m2 as obese . However, BMI as a measure to stratify patients with obesity has limitations and does not account for the wide variation in body fat distribution nor the quality of fat, and may not account for associated health risk in different individuals and populations . This has been shown to be true for South Asian populations . In a study from Raji et al. noted that compared with Caucasians, Asian Indians had significantly greater total abdominal and visceral fat matched with Caucasians of the same age, gender, and BMI, meaning that this population has an increased CVD risk. Besides, there is a weaker association between increasing BMI and T2DM in Asian populations compared with Caucasians due to the risk for T2DM begins increasing at comparatively normal BMI in Asian populations .
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Why Does Diabetes Increase Your Risk Of Heart Disease
If you have high blood sugar levels for a period of time, even slightly high, your blood vessels can start to get damaged and this can lead to serious heart complications.
This is because your body can’t use all of this sugar properly, so more of it sticks to your red blood cells and builds up in your blood. This build-up can block and damage the vessels carrying blood to and from your heart, starving the heart of oxygen and nutrients.
So keeping as close as possible to your target HbA1c level will help protect your blood vessels and in turn your heart. Even mildly raised blood sugar levels can, over time, put you more at risk.
Be in the know about your HbA1c and how to lower it if it’s too high.
Take Care Of Your Heart
These lifestyle changes can help lower your risk for heart disease or keep it from getting worse, as well as help you manage diabetes:
- Follow a healthy diet. Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains. Eat fewer processed foods and avoid transexternal icon fat. Drink more water, fewer sugary drinks, and less alcohol.
- Aim for a healthy weight. If youre overweight, losing even a modest amount of weight can lower your triglycerides and blood sugar. Modest weight loss means 5% to 7% of body weight, just 10 to 14 pounds for a 200-pound person.
- Get active. Being physically active makes your body more sensitive to insulin , which helps manage your diabetes. Physical activity also helps control blood sugar levels and lowers your risk of heart disease. Try to get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity physical activity, such as brisk walking.
- Manage your ABCs:
- A: Get a regular A1C test to measure your average blood sugar over 2 to 3 months aim to stay in your target range as much as possible.
- B: Try to keep your blood pressure below 140/90 mm Hg .
- C: Manage your cholesterol levels.
- s: Stop smoking or dont start.
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More Help For Managing Diabetes And Kidney Disease
If you need an extra boost in the support department, join the Know Diabetes By Heart initiative. The American Heart Association and American Diabetes Association have teamed up to bring you the best science-backed tips, tools and other resources for people living with T2D along with expert advice on managing all your risks.
Heres a resource to keep with you and keep you motivated: Heart Health: The link between Type 2 Diabetes and Chronic Kidney Disease.
Our Research And Heart Disease
We know people with diabetes are more at risk of developing heart problems, so we need to find ways to reduce this risk. We’re funding research on heart disease and if it’s successful, this research could open doors to developing new drugs that reduce plaque build-up in blood vessels and protect people with diabetes against this serious complication.
Find out more about our research into heart disease and how to get involved in our ground-breaking research projects.
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When You Have Diabetes You’re More At Risk Of Heart Disease This Is Also Called Cardiovascular Disease Or Coronary Disease And Can Lead To Heart Attacks And Strokes
Cardiovascular disease affects your circulation too. And poor circulation makes other diabetes complications worse like problems with your eyes and feet.
Thats why its even more important to take good care of your heart when you have diabetes. Were here to explain why diabetes increases your risk of heart problems, and how you can reduce this risk.
Every week diabetes causes 530 heart attacks and 680 strokes in the UK
What Causes Cardiovascular Disease
Most people think of obesity when they think of cardiovascular disease, but another strong risk factor is age. Your risk of developing cardiovascular disease goes up at age 40, but is highest after age 70.
People with diabetes are 2 to 4 times more likely than others to develop cardiovascular disease. Because this risk is so high, cardiovascular disease remains the most common cause of death in people with diabetes.
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Why Does Diabetes Control Impact My Heart
People with higher blood sugars or uncontrolled diabetes have more sugar in their blood pumping through the body, explained Madilyn Sheerer, RD, CDCES, certified diabetes specialist at Franciscan Physician Network Diabetes & Endocrinology Specialists in Indianapolis. If there are high amounts of sugar in the blood, its syrupy in a way and difficult to get to your tips of your fingers and toes as well.
High blood sugar levels can damage the blood vessels and the heart and increase your risk of heart attack and stroke. Its like how a canyon is made. Pumping through, it can damage things along the way. Its why high blood sugar affects the nerves as well.
Information Sources And Search Strategy
The search was undertaken between February 15 and March 6, 2017. Databases searched included Medline and Embase between January 2007 and March 2017. In addition, PubMed was searched from 2014 to identify articles that were ahead of print yet fully available. Evidence presented at selected conferences during the last 5 years were accessed, including the Annual Meetings of the International Society Pharmacoeconomic Outcomes and Research , American Diabetes Association , European Association for the Study of Diabetes and American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists . Keywords linked to MeSH terms specific to each database were used in the search including prevalence, OR epidemiology, AND acute coronary syndrome, OR cardiovascular disease, OR cardiovascular death, OR non-fatal myocardial infarction, OR non-fatal stroke, OR obesity AND type 2 diabetes mellitus. Other keywords were cerebrovascular disease, cerebral arterial disease, intracerebral hemorrhage, cerebral infarction, coronary artery disease, ischemic heart disease, atherosclerotic heart disease, coronary heart disease, angina pectoris. Identified articles and previous reviews were hand searched for articles that may have included data useful to this search.
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When To See Your Healthcare Provider
For people living with diabetes, high and low levels of blood glucose can cause serious, even life-threatening, medical conditions. New or worsening shortness of breath may be one of the initial symptoms. It is important for people living with diabetes who are experiencing new or worsening shortness of breath to see a healthcare professional immediately for evaluation and treatment.
In general, people living with diabetes who seek immediate treatment for new or worsening shortness of breath should expect to have a healthcare professional perform a thorough physical exam and obtain a medical history. Often, lab tests are done to assess blood glucose levels, the presence and severity of ketoacidosis, and kidney function. Depending on the conditions you have, your healthcare provider may also order an electrocardiogram to assess for any heart damage or computed tomography scans to assess for any signs of stroke.
Diabetes And Heart Disease
You’ve probably heard that people with diabetes are at risk for multiple health complications, including cardiovascular disease. As it turns out, cardiovascular disease is especially common among people with diabetes: The majority of people with type 2 diabetes will eventually develop it.
Although most people have heard of cardiovascular disease, few understand exactly what it involves. Healthcare providers use the term “cardiovascular disease” to describe many conditions that affect blood circulation in the body:
Heart disease happens when blood circulating to the heart is slowed or stopped because of a blocked artery. Heart disease can result in chest pain, a heart attack, or even sudden death.
Heart failure happens when the heart loses its ability to pump blood as it should. Heart failure can be caused by a number of factors. These include damage to the heart or blocked arteries.
Stroke happens when blood flow to the brain is blocked. This is the most common type often because of a blood clot or blockages within arteries.
Peripheral arterial disease consists of blockages in the arteries to the legs and feet.
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Why Are People With Diabetes At Increased Risk For Cvd
Diabetes is treatable, but even when glucose levels are under control it greatly increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. That’s because people with diabetes, particularly Type 2 diabetes, may have the following conditions that contribute to their risk for developing CVD.
People with insulin resistance or diabetes and one or more of these risk factors are at even greater risk of heart disease or stroke. People with diabetes may avoid or delay the development of heart and blood vessel disease by managing their risk factors. Your health care team will do periodic testing to assess whether you have developed any of these risk factors associated with CVD.
Find more tools and resources for managing your diabetes and reducing your risk for cardiovascular disease at KnowDiabetesbyHeart.org.
Written by American Heart Association editorial staff and reviewed by science and medicine advisers. See our editorial policies and staff.
Last Reviewed: May 4, 2021
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When To See A Doctor
If you have diabetes and are experiencing heart disease symptoms such as pain or pressure in your chest, shortness of breath, or fatigue, you should see your doctor right away.
They may recommend making lifestyle changes and eating a healthy diet. They may also prescribe medications. These recommendations could save your life.
Now that you have a better understanding of the connection between heart disease and diabetes, its time to take action.
Whenever possible, eat healthy, stay active, and do your best to manage your blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels.
Having diabetes doesnt mean youll also develop other conditions, such as heart disease.
You have the power to manage your own risk factors and improve your heart health through lifestyle changes and working with your doctor to create a treatment plan thats right for you.