Diabetes And Heart Disease
You’ve probably heard that people with diabetes are at risk for multiple health complications, including cardiovascular disease. As it turns out, cardiovascular disease is especially common among people with diabetes: The majority of people with type 2 diabetes will eventually develop it.
Although most people have heard of cardiovascular disease, few understand exactly what it involves. Healthcare providers use the term “cardiovascular disease” to describe many conditions that affect blood circulation in the body:
Heart disease happens when blood circulating to the heart is slowed or stopped because of a blocked artery. Heart disease can result in chest pain, a heart attack, or even sudden death.
Heart failure happens when the heart loses its ability to pump blood as it should. Heart failure can be caused by a number of factors. These include damage to the heart or blocked arteries.
Stroke happens when blood flow to the brain is blocked. This is the most common type often because of a blood clot or blockages within arteries.
Peripheral arterial disease consists of blockages in the arteries to the legs and feet.
Are There Other Treatment Options For Diabetes
Yes. There are two types of transplantations that might be an option for a select number of patients who have Type 1 diabetes. A pancreas transplant is possible. However, getting an organ transplant requires taking immune-suppressing drugs for the rest of your life and dealing with the side effects of these drugs. However, if the transplant is successful, youll likely be able to stop taking insulin.
Another type of transplant is a pancreatic islet transplant. In this transplant, clusters of islet cells are transplanted from an organ donor into your pancreas to replace those that have been destroyed.
Another treatment under research for Type 1 diabetes is immunotherapy. Since Type 1 is an immune system disease, immunotherapy holds promise as a way to use medication to turn off the parts of the immune system that cause Type 1 disease.
Bariatric surgery is another treatment option thats an indirect treatment for diabetes. Bariatric surgery is an option if you have Type 2 diabetes, are obese and considered a good candidate for this type of surgery. Much improved blood glucose levels are seen in people who have lost a significant amount of weight.
Of course other medications are prescribed to treat any existing health problems that contribute to increasing your risk of developing diabetes. These conditions include high blood pressure, high cholesterol and other heart-related diseases.
How Diabetes Affects Your Heart
Over time, high blood sugar can damage blood vessels and the nerves that control your heart. People with diabetes are also more likely to have other conditions that raise the risk for heart disease:
- High blood pressure increases the force of blood through your arteries and can damage artery walls. Having both high blood pressure and diabetes can greatly increase your risk for heart disease.
- Too much LDL cholesterol in your bloodstream can form plaque on damaged artery walls.
- High triglycerides and low HDL cholesterol or high LDL cholesterol is thought to contribute to hardening of the arteries.
None of these conditions has symptoms. Your doctor can check your blood pressure and do a simple blood test to see if your LDL, HDL, and triglyceride levels are high.
These factors can also raise your risk for heart disease:
- Being overweight or having obesity
- Not getting enough physical activity
- Eating a diet high in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, and sodium
- Drinking too much alcohol
People with diabetes are also more likely to have heart failure. Heart failure is a serious condition, but it doesnt mean the heart has stopped beating it means your heart cant pump blood well. This can lead to swelling in your legs and fluid building up in your lungs, making it hard to breathe. Heart failure tends to get worse over time, but early diagnosis and treatment can help relieve symptoms and stop or delay the condition getting worse.
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Heart Disease And Stroke Risk Factors
There is no single cause for CVD, but there are risk factors that increase your chance of a heart attack or stroke. There are modifiable factors and non-modifiable factors .
Heart disease and stroke risk factors that you can change include:
- Management of depression.
Social isolation and lack of social support are risk factors for CVD that can be changed, although it can seem challenging. One way to help with loneliness is to learn how to improve your social connections.
Risk factors you canât change include increasing age, being male, being post-menopausal and having a family history of CVD. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are also at increased risk of CVD.
The good news is that you can reduce your overall risk of developing CVD by leading a healthy lifestyle and taking medicines as prescribed by your doctor.
The Connection Between Diabetes Heart Disease And Stroke
By Elisabeth Almekinder RN, BA, CDE
Aaron contacted TheDiabetesCouncil with some questions related to diabetes and heart disease.
Aaron is 57 years old. He has had Type 2 diabetes for 12 years. Aaron visited his doctor related to swelling in his ankles and feet, shortness of breath, and weight gain.
After some tests, the doctor informed him that on top of his Type 2 diabetes, he now has congestive heart failure. He was now wondering why did he have heart disease now and was it because of his diabetes?
In order to help Aaron and other people with diabetes understand the connection between diabetes and heart disease and how to prevent it, we decided to look into the specific link between the two diseases.
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Protecting Your Heart When You Have Diabetes
If you believe you are at a higher risk for heart disease, dont despair. There are several small lifestyle changes you can make to not only help prevent heart disease, but also manage your diabetes more effectively.
If you have diabetes and develop heart disease, treatment first and foremost will include lifestyle changes such eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, and quitting smoking. You might also need medication to lower your blood glucose, blood pressure, or cholesterol level, and to treat any heart damage. In some cases, you may need surgery or another medical procedure to treat heart disease. Treatment for each person will be different, depending on the type of cardiovascular complication that you might have.
Finally, if you develop any symptoms of a heart attack, seek medical help immediately because early treatment can decrease the potential damage to your heart.
Cholesterol And Cardiovascular Disease Risk
Cholesterol is a fatty substance produced naturally by your body . It is used for many different things in your body but is a problem when thereâs too much of it in your blood.
High total cholesterol causes fatty material to gradually build up in your bodyâs arteries, making it harder for blood to flow through. It is mainly caused by eating foods high in saturated fats and trans fats.
Your total cholesterol includes two types of cholesterol, which are:
- Low-density lipoprotein â also known as âbadâ cholesterol because it can add to the build-up of plaque in your arteries and increase your risk of heart attack and stroke.
- High-density lipoprotein is also known as âgoodâ cholesterol because it helps to protect you against heart attack and stroke.
Most of the total cholesterol in your blood is made up of âbadâ LDL cholesterol. Only a small part is made up of âgoodâ HDL cholesterol.
You should aim for low LDL cholesterol and higher HDL cholesterol on advice from your doctor. If you are having trouble with your cholesterol levels, a dietitian can help you to eat healthily for your specific needs.
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Diabetes And Heart Disease: What Is The Connection
Research suggests a strong link between diabetes and heart disease. The conditions share many of the same risk factors, including obesity, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
Research has also discovered specific biological mechanisms associated with diabetes that increase the risk of heart disease.
Heart disease and stroke are the leading causes of death in people with diabetes, according to the
two to four times more likely to die from heart disease than adults without diabetes. High blood sugar levels in people with diabetes may damage blood vessels, increase inflammation, and disrupt the normal blood flow in the heart.
Therefore, it is important for people with diabetes to reduce heart disease risk by managing their blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels, eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, and taking medications as prescribed.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention .
The most common type of heart disease is coronary artery disease. It develops over time as the arteries that supply blood to the heart fill with plaque, which is made up of cholesterol and other substances.
Plaque causes the arteries to harden and narrow. This is known as atherosclerosis.
Narrowing of the arteries reduces blood supply to the heart, starving it of oxygen and nutrients. This causes the heart muscle to weaken over time, increasing a persons risk of heart failure, heart attack, and other heart issues.
- low in:
How Can You Avoid Heart Disease
You dont want to put yourself in a position of crisis. Reacting to your heart disease after your stroke or heart attack is like reacting to your financial budget problems after your bank account hits zero: it becomes infinitely harder.
If you really want to avoid heart disease and enjoy a lifetime unrestricted by chronic health problems, you need to take action now with the following steps. They arent difficult, and some of the most powerful changes are surprisingly subtle.
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Diabetes Causes And Its Types
Diabetes is on the rise worldwide, and it is a serious, long-term disease that can lead to heart disease, stroke, and permanent emotional, eye, and foot problems.
Lets talk about diabetes and the differences between the three types of diabetes. So, what exactly is diabetes and Where does it come from?
An organ of your body called the pancreas produces insulin, a hormone that regulates your blood sugar levels. If you have too little insulin in your body, or when insulin is not working properly in your body, you may have diabetes, a condition in which you have high glucose or blood sugar levels. Usually when you eat food, sugar gets into your bloodstream. Glucose is your bodys source of fire.
Your pancreas causes insulin to transfer sugar from your bloodstream to muscle, fat, and liver cells, which your body converts into energy. People with diabetes have high blood sugar because their bodies cannot process glucose into fat cells, liver, and muscle to be converted and stored for energy.
There are three major types of diabetes:-
Type 1 occurs when the body makes little or no insulin. It is most commonly found in children, adolescents, or adults, about 80% of people with diabetes have what is called Type 2.
The disease usually occurs in middle age, but young adults, adolescents, and now even children are now diagnosed with high levels of obesity.
Why Is My Blood Glucose Level High How Does This Happen
The process of digestion includes breaking down the food you eat into various different nutrient sources. When you eat carbohydrates , your body breaks this down into sugar . When glucose is in your bloodstream, it needs help a “key” to get into its final destination where it’s used, which is inside your body’s cells . This help or “key” is insulin.
Insulin is a hormone made by your pancreas, an organ located behind your stomach. Your pancreas releases insulin into your bloodstream. Insulin acts as the key that unlocks the cell wall door, which allows glucose to enter your bodys cells. Glucose provides the fuel or energy tissues and organs need to properly function.
If you have diabetes:
- Your pancreas doesnt make any insulin or enough insulin.
- Your pancreas makes insulin but your bodys cells dont respond to it and cant use it as it normally should.
If glucose cant get into your bodys cells, it stays in your bloodstream and your blood glucose level rises.
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What Heart Conditions Do People With Diabetes Get Most Often
- Coronary Heart Disease
Coronary Heart Disease is another medical term for hardening of the arteries, or atherosclerosis. Plaques build up inside the coronary arteries carrying oxygen to your heart. When this happens, the arteries are partially blocked or completely blocked. When arteries are narrowed, a person may experience angina, or chest pains. Angina pain can occur in your shoulders or arms, or in your neck or back. It may feel like stomach upset.
When the arteries are blocked off completely, a person can have a heart attack. With a heart attack, oxygen is cut off to a part of the heart. In this case, blood flow must be restored, or part of the muscle will die. Time is of the essence, because without emergency treatments, the person may die. CHD weakens the heart over time and can lead to problems with the hearts rhythm and rate, called arrhythmias. A person can also develop Congestive Heart Failure.
CHD which weakens the heart muscle can lead to more problems such as heart failure and arrhythmias. When you have a heart failure, your heart cant pump enough blood to meet your bodys needs. Arrhythmias are problems with the rate or rhythm of the heartbeat.
- Congestive Heart failure
Congestive Heart Failure happens when the heart is unable to pump enough blood to meet the bodys demands.
The signs and symptoms of Congestive Heart Failure are:
Cardiomyopathy can be hereditary, or it can be acquired due to a chronic illness such as diabetes.
The True Danger Of Being Borderline
Imagine a young, relatively healthy man with a blood pressure of 135/90. He knows the ideal blood pressure is 120/80, but his numbers are close enough that he dismisses the difference.
This man probably says, Nah, I dont have blood pressure problems. I mean, my levels arent perfect, but Im fine! Theres no emergency!
Does that sound anything like you?
If this man can ignore the risk of a 135/90 blood pressure, hell probably blow off 145/98 when he turns 40, and then shrug off 160/100 when he turns 50. Meanwhile, two decades have gone by with this elevated blood pressure causing trauma to his blood vessels and generating plaque in his coronary arteries.
Then one day, at the age of 66, after this man has become the president of his company and raised a family hes proud of, he starts sweating, hes crippled by blinding pain in his chest, and he suffers a massive heart attack. If hes lucky enough to survive and wonder, Woah, how did that happen!? the answer can be found in the 20 years that he declared his borderline hypertension as no big deal.
Instead of ignoring your own borderline measurements the same way a high school student shrugs off a C+ on a chemistry test , its time to be honest with yourself.
Are you currently at your ideal blood pressure and cholesterol levels? If youre not, you need to turn the ship around and sail far away from that borderline. Its the best way to prevent chronic disease and preserve your quality of life.
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Be Aware Take Control
Those affected by all types of diabetes are still at risk of developing heart disease, even if blood sugar levels are managed.
The most common form of heart disease is coronary artery disease, which develops over time as the arteries that supply blood to the heart fill with plaque. Plaque, which is made up of cholesterol and other substances, causes the arteries to harden. The medical term for this is atherosclerosis. When plaque continues to build, the arteries narrow, therefore reducing the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the heart. This causes the heart muscle to weaken, increasing the risk of heart disease, heart attacks, strokes, and even heart failure.
To hear more about the risks of heart disease, and questions from people just like you, visit: Ask the Experts: Medication Management for a Happy Heart.
How Obesity Can Cause Diabetes And Heart Disease
In 2010, it was estimated that approximately 40 million children worldwide are overweight, and 2,800,000 annual deaths can be attributed to obesity.
65% of the worlds population lives in countries where excess weight causes higher mortality than underweight due to the lack of nutrition.
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What Oral Medications Are Approved To Treat Diabetes
Over 40 medications have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of diabetes. Its beyond the scope of this article to review all of these drugs. Instead, well briefly review the main drug classes available, how they work and present the names of a few drugs in each class. Your healthcare team will decide if medication is right for you. If so, theyll decide which specific drug are best to treat your diabetes.
Diabetes medication drug classes include:
Many oral diabetes medications may be used in combination or with insulin to achieve the best blood glucose control. Some of the above medications are available as a combination of two medicines in a single pill. Others are available as injectable medications, for example, the GLP-1 agonist semaglutide and lixisenatide .
Always take your medicine exactly as your healthcare prescribes it. Discuss your specific questions and concerns with them.
Who Gets Diabetes What Are The Risk Factors
Factors that increase your risk differ depending on the type of diabetes you ultimately develop.
Risk factors for Type 1 diabetes include:
- Having a family history of Type 1 diabetes.
- Injury to the pancreas .
- Presence of autoantibodies .
- Physical stress .
- Exposure to illnesses caused by viruses.
Risk factors for prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes include:
- Family history of prediabetes or Type 2 diabetes.
- Being African-American, Hispanic, Native American, Asian-American race or Pacific Islander.
- Being overweight.
Risk factors for gestational diabetes include:
- Family history of prediabetes or Type 2 diabetes.
- Being African-American, Hispanic, Native American or Asian-American.
- Being overweight before your pregnancy.
- Being over 25 years of age.
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