Diabetes is a lifestyle condition that can be caused due to numerous reasons including genetics, dietary and lifestyle factors. Someone who has diabetes has increased risk of many other health issues including hypertension and heart stroke. According to the American Stroke Association, dibetics are two times more likely to suffer a stroke as compared to others. They are also likely to develop a heart condition at an early age. In a nutshell, uncontrolled diabetes can double the risk of stroke and other heart diseases.
What is the link between diabetes and stroke?
The connection lies in the breakdown of blood glucose by the body. When we eat something, it is broken down into glucose to release energy for body functions. When the food gets digested and converted into glucose, it is spread to the entire body through blood. In order to make glucose reach a cell and release energy, insulin hormone is required. Insulin is produced and released by the pancreas.
- In type-1 diabetes, the pancreas doesn’t produce insulin at all.
- In type-2 diabetes, either the pancreas produces insufficient insulin or it is not utilised by the cells properly.
This causes increased accumulation of glucose in the blood leading to high blood glucose. While the glucose keeps on releasing and accumulating in the bloodstream, it is not being converted into energy. Overtime, unmanaged diabetes or high blood glucose levels can clog blood vessels and lead to clotting and increased fatty deposits.
How does diabetes cause stroke?
As mentioned above, diabetes condition affects the absorption of glucose which hampers processing of food. Due to this, sugar or glucose builds up in the blood leading to high blood glucose levels. Over time, this can damage blood vessels leading to increased risk of stroke. While diabetics are at a greater risk of stroke, here are some other issues that multiply the risk:
- Being overweight or obese
- Having an existing heart disease
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure or hypertension
Ways to reduce the risk of stroke
Here are some steps that can help diabetics ward off the risk of stroke:
Follow a heart-healthy diet- Apart from cutting down on sugar to manage diabetes, you also need to maintain a heart-healthy diet. This should have high fiber and less fat. You must also check your cholesterol at regular intervals.
Maintain a healthy BMI- As mentioned, being overweight and obese along with diabetes doubles the risk of stroke. Thus, you must keep your weight in check and maintain a healthy BMI.
Be physically active- Whether it is a 30 minute walk or a gym session or swimming or even rope skipping, do some sort of physical activity daily. If you have high blood sugar, speak to your doctor for the right exercise.
Avoid smoking and drinking- These are hazardous to health and can be fatal if your have diabetes. So, limit or avoid smoking and drinking alcohol.
It is very important for diabetics to take utmost care of their wellness to lessen the risk of associated illnesses including stroke.
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