When people living with diabetes develop heart disease, the condition is referred to as diabetic heart disease (DHD). Adults with diabetes are up to four times more likely to have heart disease than those without, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). In fact, nearly 70 percent of older adults with diabetes die from some form of heart disease.
The good news is that with lifestyle changes and adherence to a treatment plan, patients can avoid or delay DHD and other major complications.
What is the connection between diabetes and heart disease?
High blood glucose levels related to diabetes, as well as other risk factors, can damage the heart and vascular system. Here are some ways that diabetes is linked to heart disease:
- Atherosclerosis – High blood glucose levels can cause an increase in plaque deposits on the walls of arteries. Excess deposits narrow the arteries, constrict blood flow, and can eventually clog and harden the vessels. This is called atherosclerosis.
- Hypertension – High blood pressure increases the risk of heart disease, and people with diabetes are at greater risk of high blood pressure.
- Metabolic syndrome – This is a collection of risk factors that put you at risk for heart disease, as well as diabetes. The National Cholesterol Education Program considers a patient to have metabolic syndrome if he or she has at least three of these conditions
- Large waist (40 in. or greater circumference for men; 35 in. or greater for women)
- High triglycerides (150 mg/dL or higher)
- Low good cholesterol, called HDL (lower than 50 mg/dL in men or 40 mg/dL in women)
- High blood pressure (130/85 or higher)
- High fasting blood glucose (100 mg/dL or higher)
Diabetics also have a greater risk of heart disease at an early age, and have the same risk of heart attack and death as people who have already had a heart attack, according to the AHA.
How do I prevent diabetic heart disease?
The key to preventing heart disease is managing your diabetes and addressing other risk factors. Those with additional risk factors for heart disease (family history, smoking, etc.) should be especially attentive to their health. Simple lifestyle changes and sticking to your diabetes medications and treatments can go a long way.
- Ask your doctor for help quitting smoking.
- Work with your doctor, nutritionist, and/or a trainer for help adjusting your diet and losing weight.
- Find ways to manage and reduce stress at work or home.
- Stick to your medication for diabetes or a heart condition, and don’t make any changes unless your doctor advises.
Heart Disease, Vascular Health, and Amputation
Diabetics with peripheral artery disease (PAD) and other cardiovascular conditions may suffer from poor circulation to the legs and feet. This puts them at greater risk of leg and foot ulcers.
Meanwhile, the nerve damage associated with diabetes may reduce sensation in the feet, making diabetics less likely to notice and seek care for chronic wounds.
The wounds may become infected, and the poor circulation to the legs and feet reduces the body’s ability to fight off the infection. This may ultimately require amputation of the leg or foot.
All of these things combine to make diabetics prone to amputation. So don’t ignore that wound or let your symptoms go unchecked. Vascular Health offers a comprehensive 9-in-1 Solution that provides customized heart, vascular, and wound care, all in a single location.
Learn more about the link between heart disease and vascular health.
How soon can I get an appointment?
Do not wait until it’s too late. Procrastination can reduce quality of life and lead to health complications such as amputation or heart attack.
At The Heart Center in Bakersfield, our highly-trained, credentialed team and world-class technologies enable us to successfully treat people with diabetes and various types of heart and vascular disease, helping them prevent complications such as amputation.
Call 855-VASCULAR to schedule an appointment today.