Diabetes mellitus is a chronic condition that affects more than 37 million Americans. By 2030, the disease will likely be prevalent in 1 in 10 people worldwide. Often known as a silent killer, diabetes can lead to life-threatening health complications if left untreated.
Prolonged diabetes can damage various organs of the body, including the eyes, kidneys, and skin. Also, it can lead to nerve damage (a condition known as diabetic neuropathy). However, one of the most catastrophic complications of diabetes is an increased risk of heart disease.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the link between diabetes mellitus and heart disease. Also, we’ll discuss how people with diabetes can lower their risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. Let’s get started.
Diabetes Mellitus and Heart Disease: Understanding the Connection
When an individual has diabetes, their body doesn’t metabolize glucose properly, which leads to elevated blood glucose levels. The excess sugar in the blood can stick to the walls of blood vessels, thus damaging and narrowing them. Also, diabetes causes damage to the nerves that control the cardiovascular system.
That, in turn, requires the heart to work harder to pump blood throughout the body. Ultimately, it can result in chronic conditions, such as coronary artery disease and heart failure. Diabetes can also increase the likelihood of blood clots, thus leading to heart attacks and strokes.
It’s also worth noting that most people with diabetes also have other underlying conditions, such as hypertension and high cholesterol levels. That, in turn, increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
On the other hand, a history of heart disease also increases your predisposition to diabetes mellitus. That’s because most people with cardiovascular ailments have pre-existing conditions, such as high blood pressure and obesity, which are linked to increased diabetes risk.
Minimizing the Risk of Heart Disease
Once you realize the close link between diabetes and cardiology, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. The good news is that many of the techniques to manage and treat diabetes also help keep heart disease at bay.
Here are a few tips to help you get started:
Control Blood Sugar Levels
It’s crucial to undergo regular HbA1c and fasting blood glucose tests to monitor your blood sugar levels. You can even use a glucometer to test your blood glucose levels at home. Also, consult a diabetes mellitus specialist to understand whether you need to take any medications or insulin injections to keep your blood sugar levels in check.
Maintain a Healthy Body Weight
Being overweight or obese is a risk factor for both diabetes mellitus and heart disease. That makes it crucial to control your body weight. If you have a higher body mass index (BMI), consult a fitness expert or nutritionist to create a holistic weight loss plan.
Embrace a Balanced Diet
A balanced, nutrient-rich diet will help maintain your blood sugar levels and facilitate weight loss. Also, it can help keep your blood pressure and cholesterol levels in check. Avoid sugar-rich packaged and processed foods. Instead, include more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in your diet. It’s a good idea to consult a nutritionist for a DASH or Mediterranean diet plan.
Get Regular Exercise
Exercise offers several health benefits, including weight control and emotional well-being. You can work out at the gym, go for occasional hikes, or try doing yoga. The key is to incorporate some kind of physical activity into your daily routine.
Besides these measures, you should also get your blood pressure and cholesterol regularly checked. Talk to your doctor to understand whether you need to take any medications, such as beta-blocker or statins, to lower your risk of diabetes complications further.
Safe diabetic medicines for heart disease individuals
There is a clear link between diabetes mellitus and heart disease. People with diabetes are at an increased risk of developing heart disease due to the effects of high blood sugar on the blood vessels and heart. Proper management of diabetes and heart disease risk factors is essential to prevent the development of heart disease in people with diabetes.
Dr. C Raghu is an eminent cardiologist based in Hyderabad. If you or anyone you know has been diagnosed with diabetes and is at risk of developing heart disease, feel free to book a consultation with Dr. Raghu today.