How diabetes is affecting your heart

August 21, 2019

Among people having diabetes, heart disease is a common ailment. In fact, there have been studies that indicate two times the risk of stroke and heart disease among people with diabetes. While all diabetic individuals have a high risk of suffering from heart disease, it is a more common condition among those with type 2 diabetes. Heart disease is actually the most common cause of death among diabetics.

There are a number of health risk factors that increase the chance of heart disease being developed. Apart from diabetes, other health conditions that are associated with heart disease are high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, smoking and a history of early heart disease in the family.

It goes without saying that you would be more vulnerable to heart ailments if you are prone to more health risk factors. Chances are that you will not only develop these diseases but also die because of it. For instance, if you have diabetes along with other health risk factors, your chance of dying from heart disease is 2-4 times more likely.

If you have diabetes, it is highly recommended that you treat all the risk factors associated with heart disease.

Cause of heart disease with diabetes

It is common for coronary arteries to harden in an individual with diabetes, causing heart disease. Diabetes can also cause atherosclerosis, which results in building up of cholesterol in blood vessels supplying nutrition and oxygen to the heart.

During the rupture or breaking apart of cholesterol plaques, the body sends platelets to seal up and repair the rupture. Since the artery is small, the blood flow can be blocked by the platelets, causing problems in delivery of oxygen and resulting in a heart attack. The same happens in all the arteries of the body, which can cause a stroke due to insufficient blood supply to the brain or even peripheral vascular disease due to lack of blood in hands, arms or feet.

Not just heart disease, diabetic individuals also have a higher risk of heart failure. This is a serious condition during which the heart fails to adequately pump blood. It can result in building up of fluid in the lungs causing difficulties in breathing, or retention of fluid in other body parts, particularly legs, resulting in swelling.

Symptoms to be aware of

Following are the symptoms of heart attack:

  • Breath shortness
  • Feeling faint
  • Dizziness
  • Unexplained and excessive sweating
  • Pain or pressure in the chest
  • Pain in the left arm, shoulders and jaw
  • Nausea

If you experience any such symptoms, you should get emergency medical attention immediately. Remember that not everyone experiences all these classic symptoms during a heart attack.

Treating heart disease among individuals with diabetes

For people having diabetes, there are many treatment options available for dealing with heart disease. Of course, the treatment option depends on how severe the condition is. The treatment options include:

  • Maintaining a suitable and appropriate diet
  • Exercising, which can not only help in losing weight but also improve sugar levels, regulate blood pressure, cholesterol levels and decrease fat in abdominal regions. All these are factors that increase the risk of heart disease
  • Medications
  • Aspiring therapy for reducing the risk of clots that result in strokes and heart attacks
  • Surgery

Preventing heart disease 

If you have diabetes, you have to take good care of yourself for preventing heart disease:

  • Try maintaining blood sugar to normal levels
  • Control blood pressure. If required, you can even use medications for that
  • Keep your cholesterol under control
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Exercise regularly
  • Consume a healthy diet
  • Try to reduce stress as much as possible