By – Dr Ayan Mukherjee, MD. MSc Endocrinology ( University of South Wales). Consultant Diabetologist and physician, BP PODDAR HOSPITAL, IRIS HOSPITAL, APOLLO CLINIC BANSDRONI
Diabetes and heart disease are often closely linked to one another. The risk of developing heart disease is two to four times higher in those with diabetes than in people without diabetes, according to the American Heart Association (AHA).¹ However, the good news is that managing blood sugar levels can greatly reduce this risk.
When we eat, our body breaks down carbohydrates into glucose, which our cells use as energy. In people with diabetes, their body either produces insufficient insulin or does not use insulin effectively. It can lead to high levels of glucose in the blood, which can damage blood vessels and increase the risk of heart disease.
How Diabetes Affects the Heart?
Regarding heart health, managing blood sugar is key for people with diabetes. High blood sugar can damage the vessels that supply blood to the heart muscle and the heart itself. It can lead to Diabetic Cardiomyopathy, weakening the heart and making it unable to pump blood effectively.
One of the main causes of heart failure and a significant complication of diabetes is Diabetic Cardiomyopathy. Moreover, cardiovascular issues like coronary artery disease, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease are more common in people with diabetes.
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, heart disease and stroke are the major causes of death in people with diabetes.²
Managing Blood Sugar to Improve Heart Health
High blood sugar levels can damage the heart and lead to cardiovascular disease. That’s why it’s essential to keep blood sugar levels under control, especially if one has diabetes. A few steps may contribute to better heart health and blood sugar control, such as:
1. Watching the diet:
Consuming a healthy diet that is high in fiber, low in saturated and trans fats, and low in sugar and sodium content can help to keep blood sugar and blood pressure levels in check.
2. Meeting their daily exercise targets:
Exercise can help reduce blood sugar levels by improving insulin sensitivity. It also helps to keep blood pressure in check.
3. Monitoring blood sugar and blood pressure regularly:
Regular checking of blood sugar levels will help identify patterns and make necessary adjustments to diet, exercise routines, and medications.
4. Taking medications regularly as prescribed:
It’s important to take medications as prescribed by the doctor to control blood sugar and blood pressure levels.
5. Working with the healthcare provider:
Be sure to work closely with the healthcare team to create an individualized plan for managing healthy blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
In addition to managing blood sugar levels, paying attention to other risk factors for heart disease is important. Factors like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and smoking can all increase the risk of heart disease in people with diabetes. If necessary, these risk factors can often be managed through lifestyle changes and medication.
Diabetes and heart health are closely linked, which is why it’s so important to manage blood sugar levels if one has diabetes. Lifestyle changes, medication, and regular check-ups with the doctor can help keep blood sugar levels in check and reduce the risk of heart disease. Not only will this help reduce the risk of complications associated with diabetes, but it can also improve overall cardiovascular wellness.
1. www.medicalnewstoday.com. (2021). Diabetes and heart disease: What is the connection? [online] Available at:https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/diabetes-heart-disease-connection#:~:text=Indeed%2C%20adults%20with%20diabetes%20are.
2. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (2019b). Diabetes, Heart Disease, and Stroke | NIDDK. [online] National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Available at: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/preventing-problems/heart-disease-stroke.