People with diabetes are twice as likely to suffer from heart disease as people without diabetes. Even more telling—two out of three people with diabetes will die from cardiovascular disease. The reason? High blood sugar clogs the blood vessels, leading to a heart attack or stroke.
What is Diabetic Heart Disease?
Diabetic heart disease (DHD) is a term unique to the heart disease that often develops in diabetics. Not only do diabetics suffer greater risks for heart disease, but they also may develop heart problems at a younger age that can lead to more severe cardiovascular issues.
People with type 1 or type 2 diabetes can develop DHD.
What Heart Diseases Does DHD Involve?
A person with diabetic heart disease is more likely to suffer from these specific cardiovascular conditions:
• Coronary artery disease (hardening of the arteries) — caused by a narrowing or blocking of blood vessels, coronary artery disease prevents blood and oxygen from reaching the heart, which can produce a heart attack called a myocardial infarction (MI).
• Heart failure — a progressive condition in which the heart fails to pump enough blood throughout the body, causing a depletion of both blood and oxygen.
• Diabetic cardiomyopathy — damage to the structure and function of the heart that can lead to heart failure or arrhythmias, even for people without coronary artery disease.
It's important to note that the higher your blood sugar, the greater your risk of developing the problems listed above. Also, if you smoke, have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or are overweight or obese, you increase your risks.
What Can You Do to Prevent Heart Disease?
Lifestyle changes can make a world of difference. To start, you need to get your blood sugar under control. Follow your doctor's prescribed plan, get regular exercise, eat a low-fat diet rich in vitamins and minerals, and learn everything you can about your condition. Understanding the risk factors and how to prevent them are key to ensuring a healthy future.