Diabetes and heart health

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Diabetes and heart disease are more connected than you might think. A person with diabetes is twice as likely to have a heart attack or stroke compared to someone who doesn't. That's because high blood sugar can damage the blood vessels and nerves around your heart. Here are some other connections between diabetes and heart disease you should know.

People with diabetes are more likely to have high:

LDL. That's the "bad" cholesterol that causes plaque to build up in arteries.

Blood pressure. Having both diabetes and high blood pressure dramatically increases heart disease risk.

Triglycerides and low HDL ("good" cholesterol). This is a type of fat that builds up in—and stiffens—arteries.

Luckily, there is a lot you can do to help prevent both diabetes and heart disease. It starts with managing the diabetes ABCS:

A: Get your A1C tested regularly to track your average blood sugar over time.

B: Watch your blood pressure and keep it in the zone your health care provider recommends.

C: Stay on top of your cholesterol levels. Keep them down with lifestyle changes and medication your provider may prescribe.

S: Don't smoke. If you smoke, find a smoking cessation program and stick to it.

Here are some other things that cut your heart disease and diabetes risks:

Manage stress. Not only can it increase blood pressure, it might also make you want to do other things that raise your risk, like overindulge in sweets.

Eat right. For overall good health (and to help prevent disease), pile on the produce. Choose lean proteins and whole grains. And skip processed foods as much as you can.

Exercise. Physical activity helps lower blood sugar. When done regularly, it can help prevent or manage diabetes.

Lose weight. If you're overweight, losing even a few pounds can help reduce triglycerides and blood sugar.

Consider medicine. You may benefit from drugs that can reduce blood pressure, lower cholesterol, manage blood sugar or help you lose weight. Talk to your provider about what's right for you.

Get tested. There are tests you can take to evaluate your heart's current health and heart disease risk. Your health care provider can tell you what tests to schedule.

Watson Clinic’s Family Medicine and Internal Medicine specialists can help you manage your diabetes, and offer referrals to additional Clinic experts when more specialized care is needed, including diabetes educators, medical nutritionists, and cardiologists. Call 863-680-7190 to schedule an appointment.

Sources: American Diabetes Association; American Heart Association; Cardiovascular Research Foundation; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


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