Manage the Risk: the Link Between Diabetes, Heart Disease and Stroke™

After being diagnosed with diabetes, many people work on improving their health to decrease the likelihood of complications. Kidney disease, skin disorders, blindness and foot problems are well-known complications of the condition. However, there is another risk that often hides in the background, unbeknownst to the patient.

Heart disease and stroke are major complications associated with diabetes, yet nearly 70% of people with diabetes aren’t aware of the connection between heart attack, stroke and diabetes.* Because people with diabetes often experience high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels along with other health problems, they are at an increased risk of developing arterial disease – a condition that can ultimately lead to a stroke or heart attack. Although this may seem dire, the long-term outlook for diabetics can be positive if risk factors are managed properly.

A Heart-to-Heart Matter

If you’re wondering how diabetes affects your heart, here’s how: A spike in blood sugar, blood pressure or cholesterol can harm your blood vessels by making it easier for fat deposits to cling to the arteries. Arteries and blood vessels can become blocked, leading to a heart attack or stroke. Fortunately, there are strategies for warding off arterial disease.

One of the first steps in determining whether you are at risk for diabetes complications is to assess your overall health. If you smoke, drink heavily and/or eat poorly, your health may be at risk. These factors can harm anyone’s health, but are especially dangerous for a person with diabetes. Making changes to your lifestyle takes effort, but can greatly reduce complications. To help maintain heart health, the American Diabetes Association suggests following the ABCs of diabetes care.

Lower your Hemoglobin A1C. Keeping your Hemoglobin A1C (a blood test that indicates how your blood sugar control has been over the past three months) below 7% can help prevent complications.

Monitor blood pressure. Have your blood pressure checked regularly. If your doctor tells you it’s high, you may need to work on reducing stress or following an exercise routine. Medication may also be an option for getting blood pressure under control.

Tackle bad cholesterol. LDL cholesterol is unhealthy for your heart. This type of cholesterol can lead to fat build-up in your arteries, increasing the chance that you’ll develop cardiovascular disease. By lowering your cholesterol, you can help keep your heart in working order.

On the Right Path

If you have diabetes and are concerned about your risk for heart attack or stroke, talk to your physician. Your health care provider can help monitor your diabetes and suggest ways to improve your health.€™t

by Diabetes Info

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