Learn the lifestyle changes that can make a difference.
Did you know that a person with diabetes has the same risk for heart disease as someone who has already had a heart attack? People with diabetes are two to four times more likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke than people without the disease. Fortunately, you can decrease that risk by making certain lifestyle changes. But first, let's answer an important question: Why does heart disease loom so large for people with diabetes?
Why are people with diabetes more at risk for heart disease?
Diabetes makes you prone to heart disease because of the way it alters your body functions. Diabetes changes how hard your heart works by worsening the composition of fats in the blood, including bad cholesterol (LDL), good cholesterol (HDL), and triglycerides, and causing arteries to become thick and stiff. This hardening of the arteries can happen earlier in people with diabetes. The condition makes the heart work harder, affects blood pressure and circulation, and can lead to heart attack or stroke.
Now for the good news: You can lower your risk by learning about your condition and becoming an active diabetes manager. Your steps include:
* Regular checkups with your health care team
* Active health management through diet and exercise
* Better control of blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels
Understanding cholesterol's role in heart disease
When it comes to reducing your risk for heart disease, managing your cholesterol levels is essential. There are two types of cholesterol to monitor: bad cholesterol (LDL) and good cholesterol (HDL). You also will need to monitor your triglycerides.
Lowering LDL is your first line of defense, and you can achieve this goal by eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Next, focus on increasing your HDL levels and managing your triglycerides. Do this the same way you manage bad cholesterol: through healthy diet and exercise. Groups such as the American Heart Association(R), American Diabetes Association(R), and National Cholesterol Education Program recommend reduction of dietary saturated and trans fats and cholesterol as a first step for improving blood cholesterol. These groups also recommend increasing or adding sources of soluble fiber and phytosterols, both of which are known to lower cholesterol levels. If lifestyle changes aren't enough, medication might be necessary.
To find out more about your cholesterol levels, get a free risk assessment. This assessment gives you key information about cholesterol health and the importance of managing cholesterol levels, and is a starting point to help reduce your risks.
To lower your risk for cardiovascular disease, be proactive and work with your health care team. You might find that you're effectively managing your diabetes at the same time.
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