Diabetes is caused when the blood glucose levels in the body is higher than normal. Body breaks the food into glucose and carries it to all the cells of the body which is converted to energy using insulin (hormone). There are two types of diabetes namely Type 1 – when body doesn’t make enough insulin and type 2- when body doesn’t use insulin properly.
The higher the person’s blood sugar level is the higher the chances of developing heart diseases. Compared to people who do not have diabetes, people having diabetes are at an elevated risk of heart disease even at young age.
Diabetes affects heart disease risk in three major ways.
Just like smoking, hypertension and high cholesterol, diabetes itself is a serious risk factor for heart disease. People with T2DM are at same risk of suffering a cardiac arrest or heart attack like those who have history of heart attack.
Diabetes when combined with other risk factors like obesity, overweight and metabolic syndrome causes harmful physical changes to the heart. People with history of cardiac disease treatment like bypass grafting, angioplasty etc tend to have less success if the blood sugar level is uncontrolled.
Diabetes increases the risk of heart diseases as it raises the cholesterol levels in the blood and hardens the arteries, a condition known as atherosclerosis. Moreover, diabetics are overweight which furthermore worsens it and raises the risk to heart diseases.
- 1. Coronary Heart Disease – with raised cholesterol levels in diabetics, plaque builds up inside the coronary arteries that supplies oxygen rich blood to the heart. This plaque narrows the coronary arteries and reduces the blood flow to the heart muscles and can lead to clot formation. This lead to blockage of blood flow causing chest pain, irregular heartbeats, heart attack and even death.
- 2. Heart Failure – when the heart is unable to pump blood to meet body’s requirements, it puts load on heart muscles leading to heart failure. This doesn’t mean that the heart has stopped working but its pumping ability has reduced. This is a serious medical condition that can make you easily tired, limit your activities and weaken the heart muscles with time.
- 3. Cardiomyopathy – this disease damages the structure and functioning of the heart in those who have diabetes. The disease can lead to heart failure and abnormal beat.
What causes heart disease due to diabetes?
- 1. Atherosclerosis – plaque builds up inside the arteries and progresses with age. Following factors damage the inner layer of the coronary arteries –
- High Blood Pressure
- Uncontrolled diabetes
- High cholesterol levels in the blood
- 2. Metabolic Syndrome – a group of risk factors that raises CHD and T2DM
- Obesity causes changes in body fat and the way body utilizes insulin.
- Chronic inflammation raises the risk of CHD and heart diseases
Controllable risk factors
- Unhealthy cholesterol levels in the blood – high levels of LDL and low levels of HDL
- Hypertension – high levels of blood pressure (above 140/90mm Hg)
- Smoking – damages and tightens the blood vessels, diminishing the blood supply to all parts of the body.
- Obesity – leads to diabetes and other heart diseases
- Lack of physical activity
- Following an unhealthy diet.
Risk factors that cannot be controlled
- Age- with increasing age the risk of heart diseases also doubles
- Gender – at younger age men are more prone to heart diseases than women
- Family history of heart disease
How to treat heart disease due to diabetes?
The main goal to treat heart disease due to diabetes includes:
- Controlling diabetes and high blood pressure & Cholestrol
- Relieving chest pain and heart disease symptom
- Preventing or delaying heart disease complications
- Repairing heart and coronary artery damage
Treatment involves lifestyle changes, medicines and surgical procedures.
1. Lifestyle Changes
- Follow healthy balanced diet
- Maintaining a Healthy Weight
- Being Physically Active
- Quitting Smoking
- Managing Stress
- Treatment for Heart Failure
- Blood Sugar Control
- Blood Pressure Control
- Cholestrol Control
Controlling blood sugar levels is good for heart health.