Take Diabetes to Heart: The Connection between Blood Sugar and Heart Disease

November 19, 2015 10:02 am
heart

People living with diabetes have a higher chance of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD) and other coronary complications. The best chance of preventing CVD is to take diabetes to heart and understand the connection between your blood sugar levels and the warning signs of heart disease. See how you can take steps to keep your ticker tocking and have yet another vital reason for better managing diabetes.

Understand the risk. Heart disease is a major complication of living with diabetes. According to the National Diabetes Education Program, the chance of developing heart disease or having a stroke is between two to four times greater in adults with diabetes.[1] The symptoms of CVD are not always as obvious as other complications, like increased risk of skin infection, but the risk is real. Since diabetes can interfere with nerves and diminish pain signals, someone with diabetes may not experience the usual warning signs of a heart attack.[2] Having diabetes is in itself a risk factor for heart disease, but there are other risk factors that you can have some control over to decrease your chance of heart attack or stroke.

  • Smoking. Seriously?!? Are you still doing this? Smoking elevates the likelihood of heart disease, not to mention that it increases the risk of diabetic retinopathy and damages blood vessels which can lead to amputations. Find help to quit the smoking habit.
  • High Blood Pressure. If your blood pressure is on the high side, it can cause strain on your heart and blood vessels as your body must work harder to pump the blood. Reducing your intake of sodium and finding ways to keep stress low can help lower blood pressure.
  • High Cholesterol. High LDL cholesterol collects in your blood vessels, which overtimes narrows and hardens your arteries, blocking blood flow. Avoid saturated fats and add foods rich in omega-3 and fiber.
  • Central Obesity. This refers to carrying too much weight around the middle than opposed to other areas of the body like your hips. Fats stored around the belly can increase the production of LDL levels.[3] Adding exercise and a plan for a healthy diet for weight loss and help reduce overall body fat.

Lower the risk with your ABC’s. To decrease the development of heart disease, it is key to keep your diabetes well managed. To do this, test regularly (with the Dario Diabetes Management Solution to help) and pay attention to your “ABC’s”[4] to track how well your diabetes is managed.

  • AA1C – Your HbA1C level is the average blood glucose level from the past three months. It is recommended to keep it below 7% unless your doctor recommends a different goal.
  • BBlood Pressure – Ask for a blood pressure test at every doctor’s visit and discuss with your doctor what the ideal blood pressure is for you.
  • CCholesterol – Have your cholesterol level checked at least once a year or more if recommended by your doctor. Keep your LDL and triglycerides low and your HDL cholesterol within range.

While your blood sugar levels are a key tool to keeping your overall health in check, make a comprehensive plan with your doctor to keep your other organs at their optimal functioning level. Speak to your doctor about exercise plans and if aspirins regimens or other medications for blood pressure and cholesterol are right for you. .[5] If you experience any chest pain, pain while walking, slurred speech or facial or arm weakness, speak to your doctor or call emergency services immediately.

[1] National Diabetes Education Program. (2007). The link between diabetes and cardiovascular disease. National Institute of Health.

[2] National Institute of Health (2013). Diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

[3] Ibid.

[4] National Diabetes Education Program. (2007). The link between diabetes and cardiovascular disease. National Institute of Health.

[5] Ganda, O. (2006). Diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Joslin.