DIABETES AND HEART DISEASE
Having diabetes means that you are more likely to develop heart disease and have a greater chance of a heart attack or a stroke. People with diabetes are also more likely to have certain conditions, or risk factors, that increase the chances of having heart disease or stroke, such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol. If you have diabetes, you can protect your heart and health by managing your blood glucose, also called blood sugar, as well as your blood pressure and cholesterol.
Over time, high blood glucose from diabetes can damage your blood vessels and the nerves that control your heart and blood vessels. The longer you have diabetes, the higher the chances that you will develop heart disease.
People with diabetes tend to develop heart disease at a younger age than people without diabetes. In adults with diabetes, the most common causes of death are heart disease and stroke. Adults with diabetes are nearly twice as likely to die from heart disease or stroke as people without diabetes.
What are Prediabetes and Diabetes? Having prediabetes means your blood glucose (sugar) levels are higher than normal—but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.
Prediabetes can lead to heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes, the most common form of diabetes. With type 2 diabetes, your body cannot properly use insulin (a hormone that helps glucose get into the cells of the body). You can get type 2 diabetes at any age, but you are at higher risk if you are older, overweight, have a family history of diabetes, are not physically active, or are a woman who had gestational diabetes.
Gestational diabetes is a kind of diabetes that some women get when they are pregnant. Even if a woman’s blood sugar levels go down after her baby is born, she is at higher risk of getting type 2 diabetes later in life.
With type 1 diabetes, your body cannot make insulin, so you need to take insulin every day. Type 1 diabetes is less common than type 2; approximately 5-10% of the people who have diabetes have type 1. Currently, no one knows how to prevent type 1 diabetes.
If you have these risk factors, you may be at higher risk than others for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.
- You are overweight.
- You are 45 years of age or older.
- Your parent or sibling has type 2 diabetes.
- You are physically active fewer than 3 times per week.
- You ever gave birth to a baby that weighed more than 9 pounds.
- You ever had diabetes while pregnant (gestational diabetes).
If you are at risk, talk to a health care professional about getting a blood sugar test.
Without intervention, many people with prediabetes could develop type 2 diabetes within 5 years, which puts them at risk of serious health problems, including:
- Heart attack
- Kidney failure
- Loss of toes, feet, or legs
If you have prediabetes, you can join the HHF lifestyle change program, making lifestyle changes is one of the most effective ways to prevent getting type 2 diabetes. It can help you lose weight, become more active, and prevent or delay type 2 diabetes.
If you’re not sure if you’re at risk, take ask your health care professional about getting a blood sugar test. The good news is that the steps you take to prevent or manage your diabetes also help to lower your chances of having heart disease or stroke.