Heart Disease

If you have diabetes, you are at least twice as likely as someone who does not have diabetes to have heart disease or a stroke. 2 out of 3 people with diabetes die from heart disease. People with diabetes also tend to develop heart disease or have strokes at an earlier age than other people. If you are middle-aged and have type 2 diabetes, some studies suggest that your chance of having a heart attack is as high as someone without diabetes who has already had one heart attack. Women who have not gone through menopause usually have less risk of heart disease than men of the same age. But women of all ages with diabetes have an increased risk of heart disease because diabetes cancels out the protective effects of being a woman in her child-bearing years.

High blood glucose levels over time leads to increased deposits of fatty materials on the insides of the blood vessel walls. These deposits may affect blood flow, increasing the chance of clogging and hardening of blood vessels (atherosclerosis).

What if high blood pressure?

What if I have high blood pressure?
Although blood pressure varies relative to things such as weight and age, normal pressures are usually equal to or less than 140/90 mm of Hg(Mercury). Pressures far above this are serious and should be checked often and treated. Some people with most readings even slightly above normal also require therapy.

High blood pressure is often called “the silent killer" because there are many people who don't know they have it since they feel nothing unusual.

Even though high blood pressure usually produces no symptoms, these signs may occur and should always cause you to contact your doctor immediately: Headache (often throbbing), blurry visual, sleepiness and confusion

What are the risk factors for heart disease in people with diabetes?

  • Having central obesity.
    Central obesity means carrying extra weight around the waist, as opposed to the hips. A waist measurement of more than 40 inches for men and more than 35 inches for women means you have central obesity. Your risk of heart disease is higher because abdominal fat can increase the production of LDL (bad) cholesterol, the type of blood fat that can be deposited on the inside of blood vessel walls.
  • Having abnormal blood fat (cholesterol) levels.
    LDL cholesterol can build up inside your blood vessels, leading to narrowing and hardening of your arteries—the blood vessels that carry blood from the heart to the rest of the body. Arteries can then become blocked. Therefore, high levels of LDL cholesterol raise your risk of getting heart disease.

    Triglycerides are another type of blood fat that can raise your risk of heart disease when the levels are high.

    HDL (good) cholesterol removes deposits from inside your blood vessels and takes them to the liver for removal. Low levels of HDL cholesterol increase your risk for heart disease.
  • Having high blood pressure.
    If you have high blood pressure, also called hypertension, your heart must work harder to pump blood. High blood pressure can strain the heart, damage blood vessels, and increase your risk of heart attack, stroke, eye problems, and kidney problems.
  • Smoking.
    Smoking doubles your risk of getting heart disease. Stopping smoking is especially important for people with diabetes because both smoking and diabetes narrow blood vessels. Smoking also increases the risk of other long-term complications, such as eye problems.

What can I do to prevent or delay heart disease and stroke?

  • Make sure that your diet is “heart-healthy.”

    Meet with a registered dietitian to plan a diet that meets these goals:
    • Include at least 14 grams of fiber daily for every 1,000 calories consumed. Foods high in fiber may help lower blood cholesterol. Oat bran, oatmeal, whole-grain breads and cereals, dried beans and peas (such as kidney beans, pinto beans, and black-eyed peas), fruits, and vegetables are all good sources of fiber. Increase the amount of fiber in your diet gradually to avoid digestive problems.
    • Cut down on saturated fat. It raises your blood cholesterol level. Saturated fat is found in meats, poultry skin, butter, dairy products with fat and tropical oils such as palm and coconut oil. Your dietitian can figure out how many grams of saturated fat should be your daily maximum amount.
    • Keep the cholesterol in your diet to less than 300 milligrams a day. Cholesterol is found in meat, dairy products and eggs.
    • Limit your intake of crackers, cookies, snack foods, commercially prepared baked goods, cake mixes, microwave popcorn, fried foods, salad dressings, and other foods made with partially hydrogenated oil. In addition, some kinds of vegetable and margarines have trans fat. Check for trans fat in the Nutrition Facts section on the food package.
  • Make physical activity part of your routine. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week. Think of ways to increase physical activity, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator. If you haven’t been physically active recently, see your doctor for a checkup before you start an exercise program.
  • If you smoke, quit.
  • Moderate alcohol intake (no more than 2 drinks per day)
  • Relax and manage/relieve stress
  • Regularly monitor your blood glucose.

Points To Remember

  • If you have diabetes, you are at least twice as likely as other people to have heart disease or a stroke.
  • Controlling the ABCs of diabetes—A1C (blood glucose), blood pressure, and cholesterol—can cut your risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • Choosing foods wisely, being physically active, losing weight, quitting smoking, and taking medications (if needed) can all help lower your risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • If you have any warning signs of a heart attack or a stroke, get medical care immediately—don’t delay. Early treatment of heart attack and stroke in a hospital emergency room can reduce damage to the heart and the brain.

Controlling the ABCs of diabetes— HbA1c (blood glucose), blood pressure, and cholesterol—can cut your risk of heart disease and stroke. Know the right figures of these for you from your docto