Effect of Diabetes on Heart Health

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Diabetes on Heart Health

Diabetes affects your whole body, from your eyes to your feet, especially your heart. While your liver and pancreas are struggling with the effects of diabetes, your heart also isn't in the best shape. The risk of heart attack or stroke increases in people with diabetes compared to those without the condition. Heart disease nowadays is a very common yet serious disease. It’s has become the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. Diabetes increases the risk of having heart disease or a stroke even at a younger age. The longer you have diabetes, the more likely is your chance of having heart disease.

People with diabetes are more prone to get heart disease that is more severe or starts at a younger age. So while proper diabetes care should include managing your blood sugar levels, you also need to think about the increased risk of heart disease and stroke-related to your condition.

What is a Heart Disease?

Heart disease includes numerous problems affecting the function as well as structure of your heart. Cardiovascular disease is similar but also includes stroke and blood vessel disease. The most common type is coronary artery disease, which affects blood flow to the heart.

Coronary artery disease results from the buildup of plaque in the walls of the coronary arteries. It affects the blood vessels that supply oxygen and blood to the heart. The plaque may consist of cholesterol deposits narrowing the inside of arteries and decreasing the blood flow. This process is known as atherosclerosis or the hardening of the arteries. The heart attack may also result from decreased blood flow to the heart. But, decreased blood flow to the brain can cause a stroke.

The arteries of another part of the body can also harden, such as legs and feet. This is known as peripheral arterial disease, or PAD, which is often the first sign that a person with diabetes has cardiovascular disease.

How Diabetes affects Your Heart?

The high blood glucose level in diabetes can damage your blood vessels and the nerves controlling your heart and blood vessels. Uncontrolled high blood sugar over time can damage blood vessels and the nerves that control your heart. People with diabetes may also have other conditions that raise the risk for heart disease:

High blood pressure increases the force of blood flowing through your arteries leading to damage of artery walls. The risk of heart disease increases greatly if you have both high blood pressure and diabetes.

A high level of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol in your bloodstream can form plaque on damaged artery walls. High triglycerides (a type of fat in your blood) and low HDL (“good”) cholesterol or high LDL cholesterol result in the hardening of the arteries.

This condition might not even show any symptoms. With a high sugar level, your doctor will also check your blood pressure and run a blood test to check your LDL, HDL, and triglyceride levels.

Some of the factors that can also raise your risk for heart disease:

  •    Smoking: Both smoking and diabetes narrow blood vessels and thus increasing your chance of developing heart disease and other problems such as lung disease, lower leg infections, and ulcers, and foot or leg amputation.
  •    Being overweight or obese: This makes it difficult to manage the sugar level. Excess belly fat around your waist, even though you might not be overweight, can raise your chances of developing heart disease.
  •    Not enough physical activity: This can lead to a high level of blood glucose and thus increasing the chance of developing heart disease.
  •    Diet high in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, and sodium (salt).
  •    Drinking too much alcohol.
  •    Family history of heart disease.

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