Diabetes and Your Heart

Diabetes and heart disease often go hand in hand. Heart disease is very common and serious. It’s the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. If you have diabetes, you’re twice as likely to have heart disease or a stroke than someone who doesn’t have diabetes—and at a younger age. The longer you have diabetes, the more likely you are to have heart disease. But the good news is when you prevent or manage one, you can help prevent or manage the other!

What is Heart Disease?

The term “heart disease” refers to several types of heart conditions. The most common type of heart disease in the United States is coronary artery disease (CAD), which affects the blood flow to the heart. Decreased blood flow can cause a heart attack.

What is the Link Between Diabetes & Heart Disease?

So how are diabetes and heart disease connected? Over time, high blood sugar from diabetes can damage the blood vessels and the nerves that control your heart. Over time, this damage can lead to heart disease. People with diabetes are also more likely to have other conditions that raise their risk for heart disease like high blood pressure, too much LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and low HDL (“good”) cholesterol.

Show Your Body Some Love

Here are things can you start today that can help lower your risk for heart disease and help prevent or manage type 2 diabetes.

  • Follow a healthy diet. Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains. Eat fewer processed foods (such as chips, sweets, and fast food) and avoid trans fat. Drink more water, fewer sugary drinks, and less alcohol.

  • Aim for a healthy weight. If you’re overweight, losing even a modest amount of weight can lower your triglycerides and blood sugar. Modest weight loss means 5% to 7% of body weight, just 10 to 14 pounds for a 200-pound person.

  • Get active. Physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight and lower your blood pressure, cholesterol and sugar levels. Try to get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity physical activity, such as brisk walking.

  • Know Your Risk. Take this 1-minute prediabetes risk test. If your risk score is high, talk to your doctor about taking action to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes. Participating in the lifestyle change program through CDC’s National Diabetes Prevention Program can help you build the healthy habits you need to succeed. To learn more or sign up, contact Anne Hayse, registered dietitian at JCDHE, at 913-477-8128 or [email protected].

  • Quit smoking. Smoking raises your risk of developing heart disease. If you have diabetes, it is important to stop smoking, because both smoking and diabetes narrow blood vessels. Call the Kansas QuitLine at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (784-8669) or go to KSquit.org for FREE help.

  • Manage stress. Stress can raise your blood pressure and can also lead to unhealthy behaviors, such as drinking too much alcohol or overeating. Instead, visit a mental health counselor, try meditation or deep breathing, get some physical activity, or get support from friends and family.

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