Heart Disease and Diabetes

If you are one of the 37 million Americans living with diabetes, you are also living with an increased risk of heart disease. Research has consistently found that diabetes is a major risk factor for developing heart disease and developing it at a younger age than others. 

How diabetes affects the heart

In people with diabetes, the increased levels of glucose in the blood can damage arteries over time. This increases the risk of many types of heart disease and is a risk that is present for all diabetic patients, including those whose diabetes is well managed.

Patients with diabetes have both an increased risk of developing heart disease and an increased risk of dying from heart disease. In fact, heart disease and stroke are the two leading causes of death in diabetics. 

Diabetes and other risk factors

Often, diabetic patients have other risk factors for heart disease, which increases their overall risk. 

Risk factors that often coincide with diabetes include:

  • High blood pressure, which often goes together with insulin resistance.
  • Cholesterol outside of the normal range, whether it is high LDL (bad cholesterol) or low HDL (good cholesterol).
  • Lack of physical activity and obesity, which put you at high risk for both diabetes and heart disease.

Reducing risk

Although diabetes is a risk factor you cannot eliminate, it is possible to improve your heart health and reduce your risk of developing heart disease. The most important thing you can do is take steps to improve your overall health, as many ways of reducing risk for heart disease coincide with general healthy living. 

Eating a balanced diet full of fruits and vegetables will help with weight management, as will implementing an exercise routine. These steps can also help manage risk factors like high blood pressure. 

Avoiding alcohol and caffeine reduces risk for heart disease, as does quitting smoking. All of these steps will also aid in managing your diabetes. Consult with your doctor and take all medication as prescribed to manage any other conditions you have. 

If you have questions about how diabetes may impact your heart health, schedule an appointment with one of our OHH physicians. We can help assess your risk and develop a plan to reduce that risk.