Most people living with diabetes are aware that they have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. But the statistics can be truly staggering regarding heart disease and the diabetes.
The connection between diabetes and heart disease starts with high blood sugar levels. With time, the high glucose in the bloodstream damages the arteries, causing them to become stiff and hard.
Fatty material that builds up on the inside of these blood vessels 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.
According to the National Institutes of Health, about 65 percent of people with diabetes actually die of heart disease or stroke, and a person with diabetes has twice the chance of developing heart disease as someone without diabetes.
Manage your Diabetes ABCs
Knowing your diabetes ABCs will help lower your chances for heart disease.
A is for the A1C test. The A1C test shows your average blood sugar level over the past 3 months. High blood sugar levels can harm your heart and blood vessels, kidneys, feet, and eyes.
B is for blood pressure. High blood pressure makes your heart work too hard. It can cause a heart attack, stroke and kidney disease.
C is for cholesterol. One kind of cholesterol, called LDL or “bad” cholesterol, can build up and clog your blood vessels. It can cause a heart attack or stroke. Ask your health care team what your cholesterol numbers should be. Sometimes you may need to take medicine to lower your cholesterol and protect your heart.
S is for stop smoking. Not smoking is especially important for people with diabetes because both smoking and diabetes narrow blood vessels, so your heart has to work harder.
Develop or Maintain Healthy Lifestyle Habits
Developing or maintaining healthy lifestyle habits can help you manage your diabetes and prevent heart disease.
- Follow your healthy eating plan.
- Make physical activity part of your routine.
- Stay at or get to a healthy weight.
- Get enough sleep.