Diabetes and Heart Disease

What is Cardiovascular Disease (CVD)?

Damage to the heart and blood vessels is collectively known as cardiovascular disease and people with diabetes have a higher chance of developing it. The term cardiovascular disease (CVD) includes heart disease, stroke and all other diseases of the heart and circulation.

What is the link between diabetes, heart disease, and stroke?

With time, high blood glucose levels from diabetes can damage the blood vessels and the nerves that control your heart and blood vessels. The longer you have diabetes, the higher the chances that you will develop heart disease if you Blood Glucose Levels are not controlled.

The good news is that the steps you take to manage your diabetes also help to lower your chances of having heart disease or stroke.

Steps you can take to help prevent CVD
  • If you smoke, ask for help to stop.
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet.
  • Be more physically active.
  • If you are overweight, try to get down to a healthy weight. Any weight loss will be of benefit.
  • Take your medication as prescribed.
  • Get your blood glucose levels, blood pressure and blood cholesterol checked at least once a year and aim to keep to the target agreed with your healthcare team.
  • If you have any chest pain, intermittent pain when walking, impotence or signs of a stroke, such as facial or arm weakness or slurred speech, you should contact your doctor as soon as possible.
Manage your diabetes ABCs

Knowing the diabetes ABCs will help to manage the blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol. Stopping smoking if you have diabetes is also important to lower your chances for heart disease.

A is for the A1C test. The A1C test shows the average blood glucose level over the past 3 months. This is different from the blood glucose checks conducted daily. The higher your A1C number, the higher your blood glucose levels have been during the past 3 months. High levels of blood glucose can harm your heart, blood vessels, kidneys, feet, and eyes.

The A1C goal for many people with diabetes is < 7%. Some people may do better with a slightly higher A1C goal. Ask your healthcare provider team what your goal should be.

B is for blood pressure. Blood pressure is the force of your blood against the wall of your blood vessels. If your blood pressure gets too high, it makes your heart work too hard. High blood pressure can cause a heart attack or stroke and damage your kidneys and eyes.

The blood pressure goal for people with diabetes is < 140/90 mm Hg. Ask your Doctor / healthcare provided what your goal should be.

C is for cholesterol. You have two kinds of cholesterol in your blood: LDL and HDL. LDL or “bad” cholesterol can build up and clog your blood vessels. Too much bad cholesterol can cause a heart attack or stroke. HDL or “good” cholesterol helps remove the “bad” cholesterol from your blood vessels.

Ask your healthcare provider what your cholesterol numbers should be. If you are over 40 years of age, you may need to take medicine such as a statin to lower your cholesterol and protect your heart. Some people with very high LDL (“bad”) cholesterol may need to take medicine at a younger age.

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.

If you quit smoking

  • you will lower your risk for heart attack, stroke, nerve disease, kidney disease, eye disease, and amputation
  • your blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels may improve
  • your blood circulation will improve
  • you may have an easier time being physically active

Ask your healthcare provider about your goals for A1C, blood pressure, and cholesterol, and what you can do to reach these goals.

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.

Source: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/preventing-problems/heart-disease-stroke