Diabetes and Cardiovascular (Heart) Disease: What’s the Connection?

According to WHO’s 2016 Global Report on Diabetes, over 422 million adults worldwide are suffering from diabetes. And not just adults, over 1.8 million children too suffer from diabetes and heart diseases. Of course, we all are aware how this disease is rapidly consuming the current population. However, the lesser known fact is that there is a strong link between diabetes and cardiovascular diseases too. In fact, almost 65 percent of diabetic people lose their lives from a heart disease.

Therefore, it is extremely important that you understand how diabetes is connected to heart diseases. So, here is a detailed guide. Read on.

Table of Contents

Overview of Diabetes

Most of the food that we eat gets converted into glucose inside the body. This conversion takes place with the help of a hormone called insulin which is secreted by pancreas, a gland situated in the liver. Now, there are conditions when either the pancreas stops producing insulin or the insulin produced doesn’t get utilized efficiently. Both these conditions are collectively known as diabetes.

The first case, in which insulin isn’t produced, is known as Diabetes Type 1 whereas the second one, in which cells are not able to utilize insulin, is called as insulin resistance or Diabetes Type 2.

Link Between Diabetes And Heart Diseases

diabetes and heart disease

Blood sugar precisely is the link where diabetes and heart diseases meet. The precarious relation between diabetes and heart problems starts with the high levels of blood sugar in the body. These high sugar levels tend to affect the bloodstream which in turn leads to the damage of arteries in the heart causing various forms of heart diseases. These diseases, caused by the combination of diabetes and heart diseases are known as Diabetic Heart Diseases (DHD).

Down below, follows is the definition of diabetic heart disease along with its types and other details. Read on.

What is Diabetic Heart Disease?

Diabetic Heart Disease is a condition that defines the development of one or more heart-related diseases in persons suffering from diabetes.

How Diabetes Affects Your Heart?

People with diabetes have increased levels of inflammatory deposits on the arterial lining. The arteries when damaged become hard and stiff with the fatty material clogging the vessels. This leads to reduced blood flow in the heart. Such an instance of reduced blood flow may cause heart stroke or even a heart attack as we call it.

What are the signs and symptoms of diabetic heart diseases?

The class of DHDs include following heart diseases, caused mainly in diabetics.

Coronary Artery Disease

Coronary artery disease is linked to the case in which the coronary artery of the heart is plagued with fatty deposits due to excessive accumulation of blood glucose. Such deposit of fatty substances causes the artery to narrow down which leads to the heart attack in the long run.

Diabetes & Coronary Heart Disease

Diabetes has quite a role to play when it comes to coronary heart disease. Diabetes causes the blood sugar levels to spike high which in turn affects the blood vessels. That may clog the blood vessels and leads to heart attack. Though it is prevalent in both types of diabetes, Type 1 diabetics are at a greater risk of such attacks. See why.

What’s behind heart attacks in Diabetes Type 1?

In Type 1 diabetes, the body develops an autoimmune response. The immune system which is responsible for targeting T-cells goes after the beta cells in pancreas that produce insulin. So, this reduces the amount of insulin being produced by the pancreas. More severe the Diabetic condition, more the person develops resistance to protein complexes which literally stops the bodily functions and leads to heart attack.

How to Avoid Heart Attacks and Strokes If You Have Diabetes?

Diabetes and coronary heart disease is a deathly combination. To combat it, it’s crucial to have a proper diet and exercise regime that will help sustain your body functions. If you can manage your lifestyle and body well, you’d be off the risk.

Congestive Heart Failure

The second type of heart disease, congestive heart failure is the case where the heart loses its blood-pumping ability. This way, it leads to changes in the heart functioning for worse as blood is not able to reach the required parts of the body.

Diabetes & Heart Failure

Diabetes is known to cause high blood sugar and glucose levels in the bloodstream. This occurrence of high glucose levels tends to cause damage to the blood vessels and nerve region, resulting in heart failure.

What’s behind heart failure in Diabetes Type 1?

In Type 1 diabetes, the body is not able to produce sufficient amount of insulin. This results in accumulation of excessive glucose in the blood. Followed by this, mainly poor glycemic control and damaged renal function are the main causes for heart attack.

Diabetes Treatment & Heart Failure

Another link between the two is people undergoing diabetes treatment and the risk of heart failure. A paper by Gregg Fonarow outlines that people undergoing any kind of diabetes treatment are at a 10-22% more risk of heart failure than the general population.

Heart failure in case of a person already suffering from diabetes mellitus is a pro bono invitation to endanger the life. The major symptoms of the case are shortness of breath along with the swelling in the leg region when partaken in some light exercise or while just moving around.

Although both the aforementioned cases are different on their own terms and aren’t related much, still many patients are prone to suffering from both of them at same time.

How to Protect Your Heart From Diabetes & Diabetic Heart Diseases?

Although diabetic heart disease is quite a cumbersome thing that can affect a human being, it can still be delayed or managed well. The risk factors for the diabetic heart disease can be identified and be curbed to some extent.

Below mentioned are some of the methods and precautions to save your heart from diabetes and diabetic heart diseases. Read on.

a) Keeping the Blood Glucose levels in check

  • Haven’t we said the same thing over at every diabetes prevention and care tips, i.e. keeping the blood glucose levels in check? Well to be fair, it still remains the best bit of care you can do to yourself. A regulated blood sugar level will help keep the heart far away from the diabetic heart disease.
  • Look to keep the blood glucose levels in balance and avoid the higher levels of more than 130 mg/dl before eating or 180 mg/dl after two hours of eating. Also,do check that it’s not pretty low like 70 mg/dl or 90 mg/dl as that may affect you too.

b) Controlling your Blood Fats and Cholesterol levels

  • As mentioned above, we dealt with how the increased levels of blood fats may lead to coronary heart disease. Keeping the blood fats and cholesterol levels will help keep the body free of any heart-related.
  • Even the studies have revealed that lower the levels of bad cholesterol, lower the levels of a heart attack in diabetic patients. Look to keep the levels of bad cholesterol lower than 100 and the triglyceride fat levels at below 150. Also increase your levels of so-called good cholesterol to 40 and 50 for men and women respectively.

c) Indulging in physical exercise routine

Exercise protects the heart when diabetes threatens is it true? Well, yes it’s true. According to the statistics revealed by the National Institute of Health, a 30-minute workout routine at least 5 days a week can significantly help to reduce the risk of diabetes by over 50%. This will help keep the blood sugar levels in check and won’t cause abnormalities in the long run.

d) Weight Reduction

  • Weight reduction even in the modest of levels can help regulate your body better against the cases of diabetes and help you wander off the signs of pre-diabetes. Look for regulated and ample-nutrition diet if you’re suffering from diabetes or heart diseases.

e) Letting go of Smoking and Drinking Habits

  • One of the most important tricks to stop your body being risked for diabetic heart disease is letting go of smoking and drinking habits. Nicotine and alcohol tend to narrow your blood vessels restricting the flow of the blood. Quit of them at the earliest.

As the ESC Guidelines on Diabetes and Cardiovascular Diseases underline, these perhaps are the initial changes that you can make in your lifestyle to prevent these diseases.

The Bottom Line

Heart is the lifeline of a human body. And diabetes, the biggest danger to it.In such a case, heart and blood vessel problems in diabetes can pose a major threat to life. Not taking proper care or ignoring the initial symptoms can lead to multiple complications later on.

As such we strongly advise to all out there on the risk for diabetes and heart issues along with people who are suffering from it, do maintain a healthy lifestyle paired with proper medication and care. That would be the only way to either prevent or delay the risks of it. Happy wellness!

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