Diabetes & Heart Disease Linked

by Mahala Church

Heart attacks and strokes occur twice as often in people with diabetes, and tend to be more serious. Diabetics also have heart attacks at younger ages. Those are some sobering statistics if your family has a history of diabetes and high risk factors are already evident.

  • Type 1 Diabetes – usually found in children, teens, or adults under the age of thirty. It requires insulin shots daily and special menu planning.
  • Type 2 Diabetes more common type and usually found in people over forty, those with a family history of the disease, and in obese people.

How Does Diabetes Cause Cardiovascular Disease?

Obesity is the main culprit.  High glucose levels (blood sugar) create fatty deposits inside blood vessels, slowing down blood flow to the heart and brain. These fatty deposits are called blood lipids and cholesterol (blood fat).

Can I Prevent a Heart Attack?

The ABCs outlined by the American Diabetic Association decrease the chance of a heart attack or stroke in people with diabetes.

A:      A1C =blood glucose level for the past 2 – 3 months.

  • Important to monitor the effectiveness of diabetes medications.
  • Needs to be done at least twice a year.
  • Keep rate below 7.

B:      Blood Pressure =high blood pressure overworks the heart.

  • Hypertension plus type 2 diabetes make control a priority.
  • Buy a blood pressure device for home use.
  • Keep blood pressure no higher than 135/80.
  • Some physicians order a diuretic or ACE inhibitor to lower blood pressure.

C:      Cholesterol = blood fat level in the blood stream.

  • Two basic types: HDL which protects the heart and LDL which clogs blood vessels and hurts the heart.
  • High triglycerides are also risk factors and usually ordered with cholesterol blood work.
  • Should be done at least once a year but may be done more frequently if rates are extremely high and medication is ordered.

Your Goal:

Total cholesterol below 200.

HDL above 40.

LDL below 100.

Triglycerides below 150.

It’s not hard to take a proactive approach to diabetes and greatly decrease the risks of cardiovascular complications.

What Can I Do to Protect Myself?

Diabetes is one disease where the patient is in charge of the outcome. Practical points to control this chronic disease include:

  • Keep appointments to get ABCs checked.  Remember you have double the risk of heart attack or stroke.
  • Eliminate that fat roll around your middle. Losing only ten (10) pounds allows blood sugar to turn into energy and not fat deposits.
  • Educate yourself on good meals and stick to it. It’s easier than you think. Check out the many options to learn how to eat to beat the risks. Online with ADA. Local hospital classes – go religiously. Diabetics can eat almost anything once they learn how.
  • Learn about medications. Whether insulin injections, diabetic drugs, diuretics, or blood pressure drugs, TAKE it and take it on TIME!
  • Get the blood moving. Senior centers, YMCA’s, some churches and fitness clubs have special programs for seniors starting to exercise. Ask your doctor.

If you are a senior that has Diabetes or Heart Disease, think about a senior living community where you can access a fitness center, care is available around the clock and a chef is on staff preparing meals every day. Still feel healthy and want to enjoy your senior years? Senior Living communities vary facility to facility. Many seniors move to a community to socialize and enjoy retirement while having peace of mind knowing that if something should happen, help is immediately available.

Call your local Care Advisor at (866) 662-0435 to talk about your options and to pick out a community that offers all of the activities you want and the care you need.

Mahala Church is an editor and writer with extensive experience in healthcare management and nursing. Specializing in oncology nursing, she is a strong patient advocate. Her writing couples her degrees in liberal arts and nursing with her experience in business and healthcare to foster support for patient and family education.