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.
Heart Disease And Stroke Risk Factors
There is no single cause for CVD, but there are risk factors that increase your chance of a heart attack or stroke. There are modifiable factors and non-modifiable factors .
Heart disease and stroke risk factors that you can change include:
- Management of depression.
Social isolation and lack of social support are risk factors for CVD that can be changed, although it can seem challenging. One way to help with loneliness is to learn how to improve your social connections.
Risk factors you canât change include increasing age, being male, being post-menopausal and having a family history of CVD. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are also at increased risk of CVD.
The good news is that you can reduce your overall risk of developing CVD by leading a healthy lifestyle and taking medicines as prescribed by your doctor.
What Is Heart Disease
Heart disease includes several kinds of problems that affect your heart. The term cardiovascular disease is similar but includes all types of heart disease, stroke, and blood vessel disease. The most common type is coronary artery disease, which affects blood flow to the heart.
Coronary artery disease is caused by the buildup of plaque in the walls of the coronary arteries, the blood vessels that supply oxygen and blood to the heart. Plaque is made of cholesterol deposits, which make the inside of arteries narrow and decrease blood flow. This process is called atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. Decreased blood flow to the heart can cause a heart attack. Decreased blood flow to the brain can cause a stroke.
Hardening of the arteries can happen in other parts of the body too. In the legs and feet, its called peripheral arterial disease, or PAD. PAD is often the first sign that a person with diabetes has cardiovascular disease.
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Protecting Your Heart When You Have Diabetes
If you believe you are at a higher risk for heart disease, dont despair. There are several small lifestyle changes you can make to not only help prevent heart disease, but also manage your diabetes more effectively.
If you have diabetes and develop heart disease, treatment first and foremost will include lifestyle changes such eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, and quitting smoking. You might also need medication to lower your blood glucose, blood pressure, or cholesterol level, and to treat any heart damage. In some cases, you may need surgery or another medical procedure to treat heart disease. Treatment for each person will be different, depending on the type of cardiovascular complication that you might have.
Finally, if you develop any symptoms of a heart attack, seek medical help immediately because early treatment can decrease the potential damage to your heart.
Are There Other Treatment Options For Diabetes
Yes. There are two types of transplantations that might be an option for a select number of patients who have Type 1 diabetes. A pancreas transplant is possible. However, getting an organ transplant requires taking immune-suppressing drugs for the rest of your life and dealing with the side effects of these drugs. However, if the transplant is successful, youll likely be able to stop taking insulin.
Another type of transplant is a pancreatic islet transplant. In this transplant, clusters of islet cells are transplanted from an organ donor into your pancreas to replace those that have been destroyed.
Another treatment under research for Type 1 diabetes is immunotherapy. Since Type 1 is an immune system disease, immunotherapy holds promise as a way to use medication to turn off the parts of the immune system that cause Type 1 disease.
Bariatric surgery is another treatment option thats an indirect treatment for diabetes. Bariatric surgery is an option if you have Type 2 diabetes, are obese and considered a good candidate for this type of surgery. Much improved blood glucose levels are seen in people who have lost a significant amount of weight.
Of course other medications are prescribed to treat any existing health problems that contribute to increasing your risk of developing diabetes. These conditions include high blood pressure, high cholesterol and other heart-related diseases.
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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.
How Diabetes And Heart Disease Are Related
The connection between diabetes and heart disease starts with high blood sugar levels. Over time, the high glucose in the bloodstream can damage the arteries, causing them to become stiff and hard. Fatty material that builds up on the inside of these blood vessels, a condition known as atherosclerosis. This can eventually block blood flow to the heart or brain, leading to heart attack or stroke. Your risk of heart disease with diabetes is further elevated if you also have a family history of cardiovascular disease or stroke.
Other heart facts to consider:
- People with diabetes develop cardiovascular disease at a much earlier age than others.
- Heart disease that leads to heart attack or stroke is the leading cause of death among people with diabetes.
- A person who has diabetes has the same risk of heart attack as someone who is not diabetic, but already had a heart attack.
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How Is Diabetes Treated
Treatments for diabetes depend on your type of diabetes, how well controlled your blood glucose level is and your other existing health conditions.
- Type 1 diabetes: If you have this type, you must take insulin every day. Your pancreas no longer makes insulin.
- Type 2 diabetes: If you have this type, your treatments can include medications , insulin and lifestyle changes such as losing weight, making healthy food choices and being more physically active.
- Prediabetes: If you have prediabetes, the goal is to keep you from progressing to diabetes. Treatments are focused on treatable risk factors, such as losing weight by eating a healthy diet and exercising . Many of the strategies used to prevent diabetes are the same as those recommended to treat diabetes .
- Gestational diabetes: If you have this type and your glucose level is not too high, your initial treatment might be modifying your diet and getting regular exercise. If the target goal is still not met or your glucose level is very high, your healthcare team may start medication or insulin.
Oral medications and insulin work in one of these ways to treat your diabetes:
- Stimulates your pancreas to make and release more insulin.
- Slows down the release of glucose from your liver .
- Blocks the breakdown of carbohydrates in your stomach or intestines so that your tissues are more sensitive to insulin.
- Helps rid your body of glucose through increased urination.
The True Danger Of Being Borderline
Imagine a young, relatively healthy man with a blood pressure of 135/90. He knows the ideal blood pressure is 120/80, but his numbers are close enough that he dismisses the difference.
This man probably says, Nah, I dont have blood pressure problems. I mean, my levels arent perfect, but Im fine! Theres no emergency!
Does that sound anything like you?
If this man can ignore the risk of a 135/90 blood pressure, hell probably blow off 145/98 when he turns 40, and then shrug off 160/100 when he turns 50. Meanwhile, two decades have gone by with this elevated blood pressure causing trauma to his blood vessels and generating plaque in his coronary arteries.
Then one day, at the age of 66, after this man has become the president of his company and raised a family hes proud of, he starts sweating, hes crippled by blinding pain in his chest, and he suffers a massive heart attack. If hes lucky enough to survive and wonder, Woah, how did that happen!? the answer can be found in the 20 years that he declared his borderline hypertension as no big deal.
Instead of ignoring your own borderline measurements the same way a high school student shrugs off a C+ on a chemistry test , its time to be honest with yourself.
Are you currently at your ideal blood pressure and cholesterol levels? If youre not, you need to turn the ship around and sail far away from that borderline. Its the best way to prevent chronic disease and preserve your quality of life.
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Be Aware Take Control
Those affected by all types of diabetes are still at risk of developing heart disease, even if blood sugar levels are managed.
The most common form of heart disease is coronary artery disease, which develops over time as the arteries that supply blood to the heart fill with plaque. Plaque, which is made up of cholesterol and other substances, causes the arteries to harden. The medical term for this is atherosclerosis. When plaque continues to build, the arteries narrow, therefore reducing the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the heart. This causes the heart muscle to weaken, increasing the risk of heart disease, heart attacks, strokes, and even heart failure.
To hear more about the risks of heart disease, and questions from people just like you, visit: Ask the Experts: Medication Management for a Happy Heart.
Where Can I Get More Information
The National Kidney Foundation has free booklets that provide more information about diabetes. Call the national toll-free number 855.653.2273 and ask for free booklets on diabetes. You can see these and other titles at www.kidney.org/store.
Date Reviewed: November 2014
If you would like more information, please contact us.
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Is There A Link Between Diabetes And Heart Disease
People with diabetes are also more likely to have other conditions that raise the risk for heart disease: High blood pressure increases the force of blood through your arteries and can damage artery walls. Having both high blood pressure and diabetes can greatly increase your risk for heart disease.
What Are The Different Types Of Cvd
When youre in good health, blood vessels are free of restrictions and allow blood pumped from the heart to travel everywhere in your body. And with the blood, oxygen and nutrients flow, too.
Things start to get dicey when blood does not flow properly. In the case of atherosclerosis, blood vessels stiffen and become narrow due to fatty plaque build-up. This lack of blood-flow can leave your heart without enough oxygen, causing coronary heart disease.
And it doesnt just affect your heart, it can cause problems in any blood vessel in your body. If it happens to the vessels in your legs, it can cause peripheral artery disease, and if in the brainstroke.
- High LDL cholesterol and triglycerides
- Low HDL cholesterol
This form of CVD occurs when the muscles in the heart become too weak to pump blood properly and your heart becomes unable to supply enough blood to all parts of your body.
- High blood pressure
An irregular heartbeat is caused when structural changes or damage to the heart disrupt the electrical messages that keep the heart beating. At its worst, arrhythmias can cause death via cardiac arrest, through loss of blood flow to the heart.
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Heart Failure The Overlooked Diabetes Complication Part : What And Why
Learn what heart failure is, what it has to do with diabetes, and how to identify and talk about this complication thats often less discussed.
Healthcare professionals often discuss diabetes complications such as vision loss , chronic kidney disease , and cardiovascular disease . However, there is a less talked about heart complication, heart failure. Heart failure refers to a condition where the hearts ability to pump blood is less than normal, often meaning not enough blood is effectively circulating to the rest of the body.
This is part one of a two-part series on heart failure and diabetes.
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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What Is The Link Between Diabetes Heart Disease And Stroke
High blood glucose from diabetes can damage your blood vessels and the nerves that control your heart and blood vessels. Over time, this damage can lead to heart disease.1
People with diabetes tend to develop heart disease at a younger age than people without diabetes. Adults with diabetes are nearly twice as likely to have heart disease or stroke as adults without diabetes.2,3
The good news is that the steps you take to manage your diabetes also help lower your chances of having heart disease or stroke.
Can Diabetes Cause Hair Loss
Yes, its possible for diabetes to cause hair loss. Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to persistently high blood glucose levels. This, in turn, leads to blood vessel damage and restricted flow, and oxygen and nutrients cant get to the cells that need it including hair follicles. Stress can cause hormone level changes that affect hair growth. If you have Type 1 diabetes, your immune system attacks itself and can also cause a hair loss condition called alopecia areata.
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How Is Peripheral Vascular Disease Treated
Peripheral vascular disease is treated by:
- Participation in a regular walking program
- Special footwear
- Stopping smoking
*Low-dose aspirin therapy is recommended for men and women with types 1 or 2 diabetes who are over age 40 and are at high risk for heart disease and peripheral vascular disease. Talk to your doctor to determine if aspirin therapy is right for you. If you have certain medical conditions, aspirin therapy may not be recommended.
What Is Diabetic Ketoacidosis
Diabetic ketoacidosis is a life-threatening condition. It happens when your liver breaks down fat to use as energy because theres not enough insulin and therefore glucose isnt being used as an energy source. Fat is broken down by the liver into a fuel called ketones. The formation and use of ketones is a normal process if it has been a long time since your last meal and your body needs fuel. Ketones are a problem when your fat is broken down too fast for your body to process and they build up in your blood. This makes your blood acidic, which is a condition called ketoacidosis. Diabetic ketoacidosis can be the result of uncontrolled Type 1 diabetes and less commonly, Type 2 diabetes.Diabetic ketoacidosis is diagnosed by the presence of ketones in your urine or blood and a basic metabolic panel. The condition develops over several hours and can cause coma and possibly even death.
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