Having diabetes means you are more likely to develop heart disease. Infact, people with diabetes are also more likely to have certain risk factors, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol that increase their chances of having heart diseases, including heart attack. Besides, many studies indicate that diabetics are prone to develop heart diseases at a younger age. So what is the link between diabetes and heart disease? Basically, high blood glucose from diabetes tends to damage blood vessels and the nerves that control your heart. Over time, this damage can even cause a heart attack. Know more about diabetes and heart health by Dr. Sudheer Koganti, Consultant Cardiologist, Citizens Specialty Hospital.
What Causes Heart Disease in Diabetics?
The most common cause of heart disease in a person with diabetes is hardening of the coronary arteries, which is a buildup of cholesterol in the blood vessels that supply oxygen and nutrition to the heart.
So not only are people with diabetes at higher risk for heart disease, they're also at higher risk for heart failure, a serious medical condition in which the heart is unable to pump blood adequately.
Risk Factors for Heart Disease in Diabetics
As mentioned, Diabetes in itself is a major risk factor for heart disease but if you are a male it doubles up your chances of developing a heart problem. Besides, other factors such as smoking, high blood pressure, obesity, chronic kidney disease, and family history of heart disease, etc., also increases your chances of having a heart attack or a heart stroke.
Certainly, you can't avoid a few factors such as family genes and diabetes, but it’s important you take steps to protect yourself from heart disease.
How Can Diabetics Lower Their Chances of Developing Heart Problems?
First and foremost, taking care of your diabetes and controlling your blood sugar is crucial in protecting your heart from all sorts of ailments.You can substantially lower your chances of having a heart attack or stroke by taking the following steps:
- Maintain Your A1C Goal: A1C test shows your average blood glucose level over the past 3 months. This is different from the blood glucose checks you do every day. The higher A1C number indicates high levels of blood glucose which can harm your heart, blood vessels, kidneys, feet, and eyes.
- Control your Blood Pressure: Blood pressure is the force of your blood against the wall of your blood vessels. So, high blood pressure makes your heart work too hard which can even cause a heart attack or stroke and damage your kidneys and eyes.
- Keep a Check on your Cholesterol: Cholesterol is a form of fat found in your blood. It can even cause a heart attack. Therefore to keep your heart healthy keep an eye on your cholesterol levels.
- Quit Smoking: Quitting smoking is especially important for people with diabetes because both smoking and diabetes narrow blood vessels, so as a result your heart has to work harder.
- Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle: For Diabetics, it’s important to maintain a healthy lifestyle. They should follow a healthy eating pattern and make physical exercise a regular part of their daily routine. They should aim for a healthy weight and get enough sleep.
Also, managing and living with diabetes is always stressful. However, long-term stress can raise your blood glucose and blood pressure, therefore you should indulge in activities to lower your stress. Try deep breathing, gardening, doing yoga, talking with a loved one or pursuing a hobby.
Therefore, it is recommended that all people with diabetes should get their heart disease risk factors treated as aggressively as people who have already had heart attacks.
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