‘Sweetheart’ may be a term of endearment, but it isn’t so sweet if you know anyone suffering from diabetes. Whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, your chances of having a heart attack is double that of a person without diabetes. The stakes are even higher if you are middle-aged with type 2 diabetes—your chance of having a heart attack is similar to someone without diabetes but who already experienced a heart attack once! Even if you are younger, you are likely to develop heart diseases at an earlier age than people without diabetes.
This may all seem dreary and gloomy, but you can definitely tackle diabetes and prevent from developing any cardiovascular diseases. While diabetes is generally understood as having too much sugar in your system, the consequences of the disease to your heart may not be as obvious. Below are some facts on how a diabetic condition influences cardiovascular health.
Despite diabetes being treatable, and even if you have your blood sugar under control, it does not mean that your heart is in the clear yet. Other existing health conditions such as high blood pressure may complicate things. With high blood pressure, your heart goes on overdrive to pump blood throughout your body and in due time, this condition strains your heart and blood vessels. Combined with diabetes, high blood pressure spikes up your chances of having a heart disease even more.
If you are packing a paunch on your tummy, that is another bad news for your cardiovascular health. The extra weight around your waist is called abdominal fat, and it can lead to other potential and harmful diseases, including high cholesterol levels. Cholesterol can form plaque which can affect the blood vessels, increase your blood pressure, hardening the arteries and possibly causing a heart attack. It is no surprise then that obesity is a major risk factor for heart diseases, and it even has links to insulin resistance, where your body produces insulin but does not use it effectively.
So, how do you reduce your risk of getting a heart disease or a stroke? It is rather simple: get moving. Common sense tells you that in order to combat obesity, exercising will do the trick. Similarly, losing weight can prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes, lower your blood pressure and decrease your chances of getting a cardiovascular disease.
Of course, practising an exercise regime would not be complete without a healthy diet plan to top it all off. Stock up on foods that are high in fibre, as they will help lower your blood cholesterol levels. Skip meals that are high on saturated fat or trans-fat. Saturated fat can be found in dairy products and meats while trans-fat is often found in guilty pleasures such as cookies and cakes.
Consult your doctor or a dietitian on how to reduce your cholesterol intake through your daily meals. Fibre-rich foods such as oatmeal, whole-grain breads, fruits and vegetables are great choices for a better heart. Remember that with every mouthful of food, you may be saving your life!
While self-care and a healthy lifestyle are important factors in keeping your diabetes and heart in check, there are some things that will need professional medical attention. With each step you take to gain back your health, make sure your doctor is aware and approves those steps. Your doctor can also tailor a medication plan based on your current needs so that you are right on track!
Although diabetes may already be a bane in itself, without constant vigilance, it could easily spiral into cardiovascular diseases. That’s why it is important to work on living a healthier lifestyle, with better food choices and regular exercise.