Diabetes and Heart Disease
Diabetes is a chronic (long-lasting) disease that affects how your body converts food into energy. There are three main types of diabetes: type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes (diabetes while pregnant). Currently, more than 122 million Americans alone are living with diabetes (34.2 million) or prediabetes (88 million). Although a chronic condition, diabetes is manageable. Lifestyle changes (such as smoking cessation, weight loss, and regular physical exercise), improved dietary habits, and a good partnership with your medical healthcare providers greatly improve your odds for a long healthy life.
The presence of uncontrolled /poorly controlled diabetes can adversely affect existing heart disease, and in itself, is a risk factor for both heart disease and stroke. Chronically high blood sugar can damage blood vessels and the nerves that control your heart. In addition, many persons with diabetes are also more likely to have other conditions that raise the risk for heart disease such as high blood pressure, and high cholesterol/ high triglyceride blood levels. These conditions, left untreated, can also damage artery walls.
Early detection and diagnosis of diabetes (as well as heart disease) is paramount to taking control of the situation. Knowledge is power, so work with your medical care team to decide on your best plan of care and how to achieve your health goals in the safest manner possible.
A heart healthy diet consists of a focus on healthy portions of high nutrient foods. Limiting sodium/salt intake to under 2300mg/daily lowers the risk of high blood pressure. Smoking cessation also lowers blood pressure, improving overall heart function. Daily exercise totally 150 minutes a week has shown to lower weight, blood pressure, and stress levels. These “exercise” requirements can include any physical activity- walking, bike riding, swimming, for example. Choose an activity, start gradually and build momentum, bring a friend along for support and encouragement, and reap the benefits.
Medications prescribed for any chronic health conditions should be taken as directed. Any concerns you have about your medications- financial issues, drug interactions, or side effects- should be discussed openly. Be advised that as you become healthier (losing weight, stopping smoking, eating a better diet, and even getting proper sleep) you may be able to reduce (or even stop completely) some of your routine medications. Many people have done so and report huge cost savings in addition to their overall health improvements. Again, the importance of working with your healthcare provider cannot be overstated.
February 14th is Valentine’s Day. Show yourself some love this year. You deserve it!