Did you know that two out of three people with diabetes die from heart disease? The link between the two ailments is strong and significant, and a close eye should be kept on symptoms so that a diabetic patient — or anyone at risk for heart disease — does not become another statistic. According to
the American Diabetes Association, 23.6 million people in the United States, or 8 percent of the population, have diabetes. Of those, 17.9 million have been diagnosed, leaving 5.7 million undiagnosed and living uneducated or misinformed about the devastating effects of the disease. At every turn, cardiovascular disease — especially cardiovascular death — stalks the diabetic patient. When matching diabetic to nondiabetic patients in heart disease trials, diabetic patients have always fared worse.
Diabetes has garnered even more attention recently, particularly with the emergence of new data indicating that the risk of cardiovascular disease events in diabetics may be higher than once suspected. Recognizing its increased incidence and prevalence, researchers have focused on examining the correlation between diabetes and cardiovascular risk, ways to combat the disease, and a means by which to educate the public regarding the devastating effects of the disease.
The diabetic risks associated with heart disease include high blood pressure, high LDL or “bad” cholesterol and high triglycerides, low HDL or “good” cholesterol, smoking, obesity, poorly controlled blood sugar levels and lack of physical activity. Many more ailments exist that can affect many parts of the body and can lead to serious complications, including blindness, kidney disease, nervous system disease, periodontal disease, amputations, and complication of pregnancy to name just a few.
Controlling your risk factors is the single most important way to suspend or even prevent the onset of heart conditions and stroke if you are a diabetic. Controlling glucose benefits not only people with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, but also people who do not have the disease. Requesting an A1c blood test the next time that you have a physical or visit your physician can reveal a lot about your glucose level. A reading of 7 percent or lower is ideal for the majority of the population, and a reduction by even one percentage point can reduce risk factors for eye, kidney and nerve diseases by 40 percent. In general for a healthy heart and to control your sugar level, it is important to eat a nutritionally balanced diet rich in vegetables, fruits, lean proteins and whole grains and minimize sweets and refined sugars as much as possible.
Keeping your blood pressure in check can also reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. In general, for every 10 mm Hg reduction in systolic blood pressure, the risk for complications related to diabetes is reduced by 12 percent. And improved control of blood lipids, or cholesterol, can reduce cardiovascular complications for a diabetic patient by 20 to 50 percent.
Prediabetes is also an indicator that full-blown diabetes can be lurking just around the corner, and a swift and routine adjustment in diet and exercise can stave off the onset altogether. Unfortunately, individuals with prediabetes have an increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Prediabetes is a condition in which individuals have blood glucose levels higher than normal but not high enough to be classified as diabetes. Other prediabetes signs include an impaired fasting glucose, or IFG, or a condition in which the fasting blood sugar level is 100 to 125 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) after an overnight fast. Impaired glucose tolerance, or IGT, is a condition in which the blood sugar level is 140 to 199 mg/dL after a two-hour oral glucose tolerance test. Both conditions are not normal, but also not high enough to diagnose diabetes.
Achieving an ideal body weight and making sure blood pressure, cholesterol and blood glucose levels are at the recommended targets is imperative. Currently the recommendations of the American Diabetes Association for these levels are as follows:
Blood pressure less than 130/80
LDL cholesterol less than 100 mg/dl
A1c less than 7 percent
“Eat, drink and be merry,” but doing so in moderation, especially if there is an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease or stroke in your family, is a good motto to live by.
Filed Under: News