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Diabetes and heart disease: Know the connection

Diabetes and heart disease often go hand in hand. Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death, for both men and women. The existence of diabetes nearly doubles the likelihood of having heart disease or stroke. The good news is there are many simple lifestyle changes that can slow down, or prevent, the occurrence of both chronic health conditions.

Heart disease (coronary artery disease) is the result of plaque buildup in the walls of the coronary arteries, which supply oxygen and blood to the heart. Decreases in this blood flow due to blocked coronary arteries, increases the occurrence of heart attacks and strokes.

Uncontrolled/chronically elevated blood glucose levels also damage blood vessels and nerves that directly impact the heart, and brain. 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.

Risk factors for heart disease include the following:

· Smoking

· Obesity

· Physical inactivity

· Excessive alcohol consumption

· Diet high in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium.

Simple lifestyle changes lower the risk for heart disease as well as maintain proper blood glucose levels.

· Smoking cessation

· Maintaining a healthy weight which also lowers blood glucose and cholesterol levels in many cases

· Healthy diet including fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains

· Physical activity which lowers blood glucose levels and improves heart function

· Stress management

· Manage those ABCs *


The ABCs of diabetes management include blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol, as well as the issues of smoking.

· A-The AIC test measures the average blood glucose level over the past 2-3 months. The aim is 7% or lower.

· B- blood pressure readings below 140/90

· C- cholesterol levels below 200mg/dl

· s- smoking cessation (if applicable)

A word on stress management

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has caused monumental stressors for everyone. Whether it be financial, physical, or mental health issues, the pandemic has indeed affected us all. Seek out the support of family, friends, and health providers to ensure healthy behaviors to deal with your personal pandemic related stressors.

February is American Heart Month, and also includes Valentine’s Day, where we declare our love to a never-ending list of family and friends. Please make sure you put yourself at the top of the list.


American Heart Association

National Institute of Diabetes, and Digestive and Kidney Diseases


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