Not many of us will be surprised to find out that diabetes and heart disease go hand in hand. They are more closely connected we might even imagine.
Having diabetes increases your risk of developing heart diseases by 2-4 times than normal. Also, the longer you have diabetes, the more likely heart diseases become.
However, taking care of yourself and your heart is much easier than you think. By making the right lifestyle changes and sticking to it, you can considerably increase the quality of your life and health.
In this blog, we will explore the relationship between diabetes and heart diseases and ways to take care of yourself to decrease the risk of heart diseases.
What is heart disease?
Heart disease is a general term that covers many types of heart problems and conditions. It’s also known as cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular diseases have reigned as the No. 1 cause of death both globally and in India for over two decades now in both males and females.
There are many types of heart diseases. You inherit some types and many usually develop during your lifetime with poor life decisions.
Coronary heart disease or Coronary artillery disease is the most common type of heart disease.
Coronary heart disease develops with time when plaques (a sticky substance) build up in the coronary arteries. Coronary arteries are blood vessels that supply the heart muscles with blood.
When plaques build up, they will block or narrow the blood passage to the heart muscles. Now decreased blood flow to the heart can cause chest pain, heart failure and even heart attacks.
This process is also called atherosclerosis, or hardening of arteries. This same process can happen in any of the arteries in your body. Sometimes, these same plaques can block the blood flow to your brain which can cause you to have a stroke.
Which are the main reasons of diabetes and heart disease?
Knowing what are the main reasons of diabetes and heart disease can help you get a better grasp at what’s the link between them.
When you have diabetes, your body doesn’t produce enough insulin or doesn’t use the insulin it has properly. This insulin helps the sugar in the blood enter the cells. In absence of insulin, the sugar sticks to your red blood cells and increases your blood sugar levels. This blood sugar can block the artery to the heart and starve it of its nutrients and oxygen. This can lead to heart failure and heart attack.
People with diabetes are also likely to develop other conditions that can cause heart diseases like:
High blood pressure
High LDL cholesterol (a bad cholesterol)
Low HDL cholesterol (a good cholesterol)
High triglycerides (a type of fat in your blood)
A scary thing about most of these conditions is that they do not have any symptoms. Only a blood test can help keep track of these conditions. This is why it is so important to get regular body check ups done.
How to take care of the heart with diabetes?
As mentioned above, lifestyle changes can come a long way. The following healthy habits and practices can help lower your risk of heart disease or keep it from getting worse:
Maintain a healthy diet
Add more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins to your diet. Avoid sugary stuff and processed foods. Drink more water and less sugary beverages, also stay away from alcohol.
Maintain a healthy weight
Aim for the ideal weight according to your height. If you are overweight, losing as less as 5 to 7% of your total body weight can lower your blood sugar levels and triglycerides.
Be physically active
Being physically active makes your body more insulin-sensitive which can lower your blood sugar levels. When you have your diabetes under control, you don’t even have to worry about heart diseases.
Try to cram in as little as 2 to 3 hours of moderate-intensity physical activity in your week, like brisk walking. A brisk walk is just a little faster than a normal walk and should cover 7 to 9 kilometers in an hour.
Manage your ABCs
A: Get your regular A1C test to keep track of your blood sugar levels every 2 to 3 months.
B: Try to keep your blood pressure below 140/90 mm Hg.
C: Try to manage the cholesterol levels in your body.
S: The little ‘s’ stands for do not smoke. Nicotine in cigarettes increases your blood sugar levels and makes managing your diabetes challenging.
Learn to manage stress
Stress can increase your blood pressure and too much stress can make you pick unhealthy habits like drinking too much alcohol and overeating. It might feel like they are helping you relieve your stress but they are only working towards making your health even worse. Try deep breathing exercises, yoga, gardening, listening to music or any hobbies that you believe can calm your nerves after a long day. Don’t let diabetes get you down.
How Is Heart Disease Treated in Those with Diabetes?
Depending on the type of heart disease and its severity there are a wide range of treatments for heart disease in people with diabetes, including exercises, diet plans, surgery and medications.
The best way to stay ahead of your risk of heart diseases is to do regular checkups with your doctor. Take the medications your doctor prescribes without fail; some diabetes medications are also good for your heart. Start with lifestyle changes, maintain a healthy weight and diet and always keep yourself active. If you have any questions, you can write them in the comments section below.