Healthy Living

The Diabetic's Connection to Heart Disease

Many already know that diabetes has a deep connection with heart disease, but a lot aren't sure about why or how. However, according to several studies, high blood glucose levels are a key contributor to this connection. 

High levels of blood glucose, or sugar, will often result in damage to the blood vessels if not monitored or treated.  In addition to the blood vessels, nerves can also experience severe damage, which causes adverse effects seen in the region that is responsible for controlling the body's heart. 

The longer this problem persists, the more likely a heart disease will develop.

An informational piece seen in The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases site explores this comorbidity, stating that, “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.” 

While this may be the case, there are a variety of resources that exist today that can help to reduce these potential health issues for patients.  To start, it is important to understand the contributing factors of obtaining a heart disease if already diagnosed with diabetes.

What increases the chance of getting a heart disease?

Diabetes can greatly increase the likelihood of obtaining some form of heart disease.  Because of this, patients must pay close attention to their own habits, such as what they eat, their exercise habits, and other factors pertaining to their lifestyle habits or choices.  One factor that makes a heart disease more likely includes smoking.  This is because smoking will result in the narrowing of the blood vessels over time. This, paired with diabetes, will create negative long term effects from the damage of said blood vessels.

In addition to smoking, another factor that increases the chances of heart disease consists of high blood pressure.  This means that more effort is required of the heart to pump blood.  With this, the heart can potentially experience unwanted strain, damage to the blood vessels, a higher likelihood of a heart attack, eye problems, stroke, as well as kidney problems.

On top of these contributing factors, abnormal cholesterol levels will also make heart disease more likely for diabetic patients.  This is because a certain classification of cholesterol (there are two types) known as LDL will result in the clogging of blood vessels. With this, comes the inability for blood to flow properly and ultimately results in heart disease.  Obesity will also play a role in heart disease. This is often the result of unhealthy eating habits that result in some of these contributing factors t hat we already mentioned, such as high blood pressure and an increase in the blood glucose levels within the patient's body. 

Lastly, a family history of heart disease may also lead to heart disease.  This again supports the need for every diabetic patient to be diligent in their daily habits.

What is diabetes?

As most may know, diabetes is classified by two main types, type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes.  Diabetes as a whole is defined as a type of disease that affects the body's ability to manage the amount of sugar within the blood.  The way the body manages these levels of sugar, or glucose levels in the blood also serves as the distinguishing factor between the two types of diabetes. The component that regulates the amount of glucose in the body is known as insulin.  In the case of type 1 diabetes, the body is unable to produce insulin, whereas type 2 diabetes means that there is an insufficient amount of insulin in the body. 

This being said, a majority of the symptoms associated with both types are fairly similar. These symptoms that diabetic patients may encounter can include an increase in thirst, irritability, sores that are slow to heal, poor vision, constant infections, overtiredness, unpredictable weight loss, severe hunger, as well as a constant need to urinate.

In terms of diagnosis, doctors will often first look for certain characteristics in a patient to determine their potential condition.  Some of the earliest factors doctors will focus in on will include the patient’s body mass index (BMI), as well as their age. If the physician decides that the patient may have diabetes, a variety of tests can be run to confirm a diagnosis.  These tests can include a glycated hemoglobin test, random blood sugar test, fasting blood sugar test, and an oral glucose tolerance test.

The future for patients with diabetes

For patients who may have just been diagnosed with diabetes, you must take the steps after, even when they seem overwhelming. One of the most important steps is noticing the symptoms in the first place. Doing this early can help ensure that you are getting the necessary treatments you need. This approach can also help to slow any further damage to blood vessels, in addition to any subsequent damage that may occur due to the condition.

Following the first step of identifying the problem, patients must look towards the treatment options they need. As time progresses, technology, and subsequently treatment options, advance and increase. Because of this, patients have a larger spectrum of choices to select.

While this is the case, the most natural approaches can prove to be the most effective. This means having a healthy diet, paired with good exercise habits, which can help to promote better overall cardiovascular health.  Following the various approaches mentioned above can help to improve the quality of life for diabetic patients.