Type 2 diabetes raises your odds of developing heart disease, so it is imperative to start paying attention to your heart health immediately if you have a diabetes diagnosis. Even those who have prediabetes are at risk and should be focusing on a healthy cardiovascular lifestyle.
Prediabetes is a result of poor blood sugar levels in the body. Unchecked, over time it could become Type 2 diabetes. This elevated blood sugar, which is present in both prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes, can harm blood vessels and the nerves that keep your heart and blood vessels functioning properly. Over time, this can lead to heart disease.
Patients with diabetes often have other conditions that threaten the heart such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and obesity. These health problems, collectively known as metabolic syndrome, can boost the likelihood of blood clots as well as cause damage to the arteries in the heart.
“Managing the risk of heart attack and stroke is less about managing diabetes than it is about reducing the risk factors that go along with diabetes,” says Matthew Freeby, an assistant clinical professor of medicine and director of the Gonda Diabetes Center at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.
One of the earliest, most serious, and most common heart problems in those with diabetes is heart failure. Diabetes has been found to worsen heart failure while heart failure can also complicate diabetes treatment.
“We only have so many tools at hand for lowering your blood sugars, and some of these are medications that should not be used if you have heart failure,” says Freeby.
By making some simple lifestyle changes, the risk of heart disease can be reduced, and overall health can be improved. Weight reduction should be the first priority for those looking to reduce their risk. By simply losing 5 to 10 pounds, you can have a positive effect on your heart.
Eating right is also extremely important for those with prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes. By understanding the foods that are harmful and which can increase your health, you can help to manage blood sugar levels improving overall health. Cutting sugar out of the diet is the first place to start when looking at changing eating patterns.
Exercise is often overlooked for those with diabetes, but it is one of the most important aspects of healthy living. By finding an activity that you enjoy, you will want to get up and get moving every day. Don’t aim to do too much too soon or you’ll risk injury. Focus on simply getting started and slowly increase intensity as you go. This can not only make you feel great, but it will help with weight loss, reduce stress levels, and keep the heart healthy.
Mat Lecompte is a freelance health and wellness journalist. This article was first published on Bel Marra Health.