Diabetes and Heart Risk

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If you have diabetes, you could also have an elevated risk of developing cardiovascular disease, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Cardiovascular disease can be brought on or complicated by poor leg circulation, also a risk for those with diabetes.

Several factors determine whether you will develop cardiovascular disease. Fluctuating blood-glucose levels restrict blood vessels and damage tissue, which leads to circulation problems. When you have diabetes, your blood vessels are more fragile and more susceptible to damage from smoking, high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels.

While these are the risks, there are steps you can take to lessen them. Follow these seven tips to help prevent or delay future heart problems:

Stop smoking. Nicotine narrows and restricts blood vessels. So does diabetes. This hits your health with a double whammy. Smoking impacts your health whether you have diabetes or not, so don’t add more health complications. Take action now and quit smoking.

Lose excess weight. Being overweight tends to increase your blood-glucose, blood-pressure and blood-fat levels. Even a modest loss of 10 to 20 pounds will improve your levels. To lose weight, skip crash weight-loss programs. Emphasize eating healthy foods that are low-fat and high-fiber and increasing your physical activity. Check with your health-care provider to determine how to safely increase your physical activity.

Exercise more. Physical activity keeps your heart healthy, while helping to keep blood-glucose and blood-fat levels in control. So don’t be a couch potato. Talk with an exercise specialist to start a sensible physical-activity program. Check with your health-care provider before beginning or increasing your physical-activity program.

Control your blood pressure. High blood pressure increases the risk of stroke. Have your blood pressure tested at least twice a year. If your blood pressure is over 130/80, lose weight. This is a lower target than for people who don’t have diabetes. Follow a low-salt meal plan and ask your health-care provider about medications to lower blood pressure.

Control your blood-fat levels. High levels of blood fats, including cholesterol, increase the risk of heart disease. When you have diabetes, you are more likely to have high blood-fat levels. So pay special attention. Know your blood-fat levels. Lowering levels of so-called bad cholesterol (LDL cholesterol) in those with diabetes lowers greatly the risk of a heart attack.

Control your blood glucose. Monitor regularly your blood glucose. Know how to take action based on your blood-glucose checks. Know how to adjust your medication, exercise and meal plans when plasma blood glucose is either unusually high (above 180 mg/dl two hours after eating or above 140 mg/dl before eating) or unusually low (below 80 mg/dl or below 90mg/dl with symptoms). Frequent high blood-glucose readings increase the risk for diabetes complications.

Know your target A1C. Hemoglobin A1C is a blood test that your health-care provider performs to tell how well your blood glucose has been controlled over the past two months or so. Your A1C should be below 7. If it runs over 7 and nearer to 8.0 or higher, ask your diabetes-treatment team for help with your treatment plan.

For more information:

Click here for more on diabetes management.
Click here for more on diabetes and blood pressure.
Click here for more on diabetes and diet.
Click here for more on diabetes and exercise.
Click here for additional Joslin Diabetes Center videos.
Click here to learn more about Joslin Diabetes Center.

3 Responses to Diabetes and Heart Risk

  1. Lynne Potter says:

    Am trying to buy a glucose test meter for my mother. She is 85, arthritic and as I suspected found out that she had not been testing herself daily because the finger prick was too painful and the meter too complicated for her to handle…SHE HAS MERELY BEEN INJECTING HERSELF EACH EVENING WITH INSULIN……. So while I have done much research on any new meter which would make it much easier for her to use, really not much available and pharmacists do not offer much information…Anyone out there reading this that could stear me to the most advanced and facile meter out there – would be much appreciated. Thank you…

  2. Today most glucose meters allow you to draw a blood sample from other locations besides the finger, such as the arm. And most meter companies will give you a meter for free. Find out which test strip is covered by your mother’s insurance, and then contact the meter company (easily be found through Google) and tell them what you’re looking for.

  3. razi says:

    interesting article. one may also use such quick tools like a heart risk calculator to asses the healthiness of heart based on a few simple parameters http://www.facebook.com/Religare.Wellness.Ltd

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