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Diabetes and Your Heart: Tips That Can Save Your Life

Victoria Advocate

People with diabetes die an average of six years earlier and are twice as likely to die from heart disease as those who don’t have diabetes. If you have diabetes, you are at high risk for stroke and heart attack, even if your blood sugar is under good control. Controlling blood pressure and cholesterol and not smoking are the most effective ways of preventing diabetes-related heart disease.

Women with diabetes have a 40 percent greater risk of developing heart disease than men with diabetes. Also, women with diabetes have a 25 percent greater risk of stroke than men with diabetes. Women with heart disease don’t always get the same symptoms as men. Instead of chest pain, women may only have an upset stomach or a feeling of fatigue. Be sure to discuss all symptoms with your health care provider.

What is type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the insulin in your body can’t process sugar properly. Insulin helps sugar move from the bloodstream into the cells, where it provides food for the body’s processes. Imagine that the bloodstream is a grocery store and your cells are a hungry household. Insulin’s job is to move the food (sugar) from the “grocery store” to your “house.” However, if insulin stops working, groceries just pile up at the market while your family goes hungry. In diabetes, sugar builds up in your bloodstream while your cells go hungry. Over time, high blood sugar can cause serious damage to your eyes, nerves, heart and kidneys.

How common is diabetes?

One in 10 Americans has diabetes. A quarter of people with diabetes don’t even know they have it. Further, one-third of Americans have prediabetes, meaning, their blood sugar is higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is increasing among children and teens. Type 2 diabetes was once called adult diabetes and was thought to be limited to older adults. Now, type 2 diabetes is being diagnosed in elementary school. African-American and Hispanic children are especially vulnerable. Young people with diabetes are typically overweight and have a family history of diabetes. They are also more likely to develop high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

What can I do to prevent or delay diabetes?

Control your blood sugar. You can do this by eating right, taking your medication and exercising. Also, visit your health care provider regularly and be sure to get all recommended immunizations.

Reach a healthy weight. Losing even a small amount of weight can prevent or delay diabetes. If you have diabetes, losing weight will improve your blood sugar and reduce your chances of having diabetes-related complications such as kidney disease, eye disease and amputations. Visit your health care provider to discuss sensible ways to lose weight.

Stay physically active. Any physical activity will reduce your risk of diabetes because it helps control blood sugar. Exercise also helps insulin to work better. Try to exercise 30 minutes a day, five days a week. Texas A&M Healthy South Texas diabetes health educators can help develop an exercise plan that is right for you.

Eat a healthy diet. Choose fresh vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Avoid foods that are high in sugar, salt and fat. Healthy South Texas health educators are experts in helping you learn how to control your diabetes through proper diet.

Do not smoke. If you have diabetes and use tobacco, your risk of heart and blood vessel problems is even greater. Smoking raises your blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure. Even if you have smoked for years, quitting smoking will lower your risk for heart attack and stroke.

Take your medicine as directed. It is important that you take any medicine you have been prescribed for your diabetes. Healthy South Texas’ Medication Assistance Program can help you if you cannot afford your medication.

Talk to your health care provider about diabetes. If someone in your family has diabetes or if you are overweight or have high blood pressure, you should check your blood sugar.

Controlling your blood sugar through diet, exercise and not smoking can ensure that you have the best chance of living a long life free from diabetic complications.

Story Credit: https://www.victoriaadvocate.com/news/health/diabetes-and-your-heart-tips-that-can-save-your-life/article_dae4a86a-2a54-11e9-8c45-fb74174dc92f.html

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