Heart disease protection is very important if you have Type 2 diabetes. Get serious by living a healthy lifestyle and taking the proper medications.
The connection between heart disease and diabetes is strong for two main reasons. Long-term high blood sugar harms blood vessels and speeds up atherosclerosis, the hardening and narrowing of blood vessels.
The combination of type 2 diabetes and coronary artery disease can be deadly. This is partly because obesity and other illnesses such as hypertension and elevated cholesterol contribute to both diseases. In addition, there are concerns that some of the medications that help control blood sugar may also damage the heart.
Blood vessel damage leads to complications of diabetes, such as blindness, kidney failure, and heart disease. Consequently, this combination raises your odds of getting type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
These factors include:
- Are overweight
- Have high blood pressure
- Have low HDL “good” cholesterol
- Don’t get enough exercise
Heart Disease: Protective Measures You Can Take
You can help protect your heart if you lose weight, if you need to, and keep a healthy body mass index. Even shedding 10 pounds can make a big difference in managing your blood sugar levels and cutting your chances of getting heart disease.
Rosen suggests you work with a nutritionist or certified diabetes educator to help you come up with meal plans that are tailored to your needs.
Exercise is also important to help you control your diabetes and keep your heart healthy. The American Heart Association says you should get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity. This is the kind that gets your heart pumping. You should also do strength training at least twice a week.
Heart Disease: Medications
Your doctor may prescribe a statin, a type of medication designed to lower cholesterol. Most people with diabetes benefit from these drugs even if their cholesterol levels seem OK. That’s because the diabetes-heart disease connection is strong, and statins do more than just lower LDL “bad” cholesterol levels. They also make it less likely for plaque in your blood vessels to break off. A plaque break off can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
Some questions you can ask at your next appointment:
- What are my chances of getting heart disease?
- What cardiovascular screening tests do I need?
- Do I need to take a statin?
- Is my blood sugar well-controlled?
- What signs might mean I’m having a heart attack?