Did you know that a person with diabetes has the same risk of having cardiovascular disease (complication of the heart and circulatory system), as is a person who already had a heart attack! In fact, 65 – 85% of people with diabetes will develop some form of heart disease.
Diabetes can damage your blood vessels, including the arteries that supply blood to your brain and heart. Fatty deposits that build up in the blood vessels will cause narrowing of the blood vessels and ultimately cause a blockage. When this blockage occurs in the heart, this is known as a heart attack and if this blockage occurs in the brain, this is known as a stroke.
When the arteries are stiff and narrow, extra force is required to push the blood through. This increase in pressure to push the blood along is called hypertension (high blood pressure). We know that high blood pressure can lead to other complications such as: heart attack, stroke, kidney problems, and vision problems.
Plaque can also form in the arteries that supply blood to the legs and feet (this condition is known as peripheral vascular disease). When the blood supply is cut off to the tissue in your toes and feet, those tissues die and often those limbs will require amputation.
* Although specific values are not provided, these are suggested values.
Take home message
Since cardiovascular disease is so common in people with diabetes, it is very important to take all measures to reduce your risk. Ways to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease include:
- Keeping your blood sugar levels within the recommended ranges
- Keep your blood pressure in check
- Keep cholesterol and triglycerides within recommended limits
- Eating healthier, watch your intake of fats and salt
- Get active and stay active
- Use alcohol in moderation
- Quit smoking
- Achieve and maintain a healthy weight