Just How Serious is the Link Between Type 2 Diabetes and Heart Disease?
The link between diabetes and cardiovascular disease is significant. In fact, according to the Joslin Diabetes Center, cardiovascular disease is the most common cause of death among individuals with both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.
If you’re unsure how a diagnosis of diabetes can affect the health of your blood vessels and that of your heart, consider the following: according to the American Heart Association, 68% of individuals with diabetes of the age 65 or older will die due to heart disease and 16% will die of stroke.
Risk Factors That May Lead to Heart Disease
Consistently high blood glucose levels increase the chance of heart attack, coronary artery disease, and stroke. While diabetes is treatable, those with diabetes (and specifically Type 2 diabetes), there may be conditions that increase the risk factor for developing cardiovascular disease including:
● Hypertension (high blood pressure)
● High cholesterol & high triglycerides
● Lack of physical activity
● Poorly controlled blood glucose
Warning Signs for Heart Disease
As a major complication from diabetes, there are many factors leading to heart disease as a leading cause of death. High blood glucose contributes to heart disease by causing the walls of the blood vessels to narrow and harden over time through fatty deposits along vessel walls, obstructing blood flow. There are warning signs that may point to heart attacks caused by these conditions:
● Chest pain and discomfort
● Pain and discomfort in the arms, back, jaw, neck or stomach
● Trouble breathing or shortness of breath
If you have diabetes, it is important to closely monitor your health. Individuals with diabetes may develop nerve damage, meaning typical chest pain associated with a heart attack goes unnoticed. This means that individuals with diabetes may have a heart attack without knowing it.
Reducing Your Risk for Heart Disease
While you can’t completely prevent heart disease, there are ways that you can reduce your risk by making healthy lifestyle changes.
Control blood glucose levels – If diabetes is properly managed, risks are greatly reduced. For individuals who need more than 100 units of insulin per day, which isn’t unusual for people with type 2 diabetes, a large capacity insulin pump can hold up to three days of insulin, and can help make insulin therapy more convenient and more discreet.
Keep moving – The American Diabetes Association has recently announced new exercise recommendations for individuals with diabetes. The new recommended suggestion calls for three or more minutes of physical movement every 30 minutes. These guidelines are intended to emphasize the importance of constant movement throughout the day and to help individuals reduce the amount of prolonged time spent in sedentary activities.
Don’t smoke – Individuals with diabetes who smoke are much more likely to develop cardiovascular disease compared to individuals who don’t smoke.
Eat a Balanced Diet and Maintain a Healthy Weight & Cholesterol – Excess weight can lead to an increased risk of high blood sugar, high blood pressure, and increased fat in the blood. A balanced diet can help you maintain a healthy weight while controlling blood glucose levels and cholesterol.
Talk to Your Doctor
Talk to your doctor if you believe that you have signs of diabetes. Following a daily diabetes care plan that is outline by your doctor will help keep blood glucose levels within a healthy range. Managing blood glucose is the best way to decrease the risk of developing health complications associated with diabetes, such as cardiovascular disease.