If you’re paying attention to your heart health, you’ve probably read and heard a lot about risks for people who have diabetes. That’s because there’s a major connection between the two types of disease – diabetes and heart disease. In fact, people who are diabetic are twice as likely to have heart disease than those who aren’t diabetic. It’s also true that someone who is diabetic who has a heart attack is also more likely to die from that heart attack.
According to an U.S.News article on diabetes and heart disease “you’re two to four times more likely to develop cardiovascular disease if you have diabetes, than someone who doesn’t have diabetes. Even if you have Type 1 diabetes, you’re at a higher risk for heart disease.”
Some of the reason for the connection between diabetes and heart disease.
There are common characteristics of people who are diabetic and those who are at risk for heart disease. For example, many people who are diabetic are overweight, which is also a risk factor for heart disease. Diabetics are also more likely to be sedentary and to have high blood pressure. This combination of risk factors would make anyone at risk for heart disease. What may make diabetes a more special case for cardiac risk is the insulin-resistance that’s characteristic of it.
Insulin resistance is known to increase LDL and triglyceride levels (the bad cholesterol) and also cause HDL (good cholesterol) to be lower. This causes the advancement of hardening of the arteries. Hardening of the arteries, or atherosclerosis, is the major contributor to heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes. Therefore people who have diabetes are more likely to have high cholesterol and atherosclerosis.
But there is good news. While people with diabetes have a much greater risk of developing heart disease, there are ways you can prevent this problem. Committing to make lifestyle changes and undergo medical treatment for diabetes can help to prevent the risk of heart disease that goes hand-in-hand with diabetes. It can also help to treat the symptoms of your diabetes and even reverse it in some cases. These lifestyle changes include a diet low in sugar and high in fiber, physical activity, and taking your medications as prescribed. If you’re not sure how to manage your diet, you may want to seek the help of a dietitian who can go over your current eating style and make suggestions for improving it.
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Many people overhaul their diet, only to find they’ve done so incorrectly. For example, many fat-free products increase the sugar content, which makes them unhealthy for diabetics. Before you make this type of dietary change, consult a healthcare professional. Nothing is more valuable than your health. If you have a family history of diabetes and heart disease, you should go ahead and make sure you live a healthy lifestyle even if you haven’t been diagnosed. This can prevent you from ever having to deal with the dangerous effects of these diseases.