The Undeniable Link Between Cardiovascular Disease and Diabetes
The American Heart Association (AHA) has red-flagged the connection, as well as the American Diabetic Association (ADA). Both organizations have been studying the undeniable link for years. In fact, in a scientific statement released on ahajournals.org, the AHA asserts, “from the point of view of cardiovascular medicine, it may be appropriate to say, ‘diabetes is a cardiovascular disease.’” This is a powerful statement and hopefully one that all adults, especially those with diabetes, recognize
The Cardiovascular Complications of Diabetes
According to the AHA statement, complications of diabetes include coronary heart disease, stroke, peripheral arterial disease, nephropathy, retinopathy, and possibly neuropathy and cardiomyopathy. The most prevalent form of diabetes in the U.S. is Type 2, adult onset that occurs later in life. In all actuality, “approximately 90 percent of patients with diabetes have the type 2 variety.” Here are some more facts from the AHA:
- Heart diseases and stroke are the No. 1 causes of death and disability among people with type 2 diabetes. In fact, at least 65 percent of people with diabetes die from some form of heart disease or stroke.
- Adults with diabetes are two to four times more likely to have heart disease or a stroke than adults without diabetes.
- The American Heart Association considers diabetes to be one of the seven major controllable risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
Heart Disease is Treatable
Although the above statistics seem ominous, the good news is that even though diabetes is a lifelong disease, cardiovascular disease (CVD) is both treatable and controllable. The ADA does it’s best to educate diabetics not only about the complications of heart disease, but also how to reduce illness and prevent death with the National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP).
Through a national campaign—Control Your Diabetes. For Life.—the ADA urges patients and health care professionals to control the multiple risk factors associated with CVD and diabetes by, among other things, managing their ABCs:
- A = A1C (blood glucose) should be less than 7 percent
- B = Blood pressure should be less than 130/80 mmHg
- C = Cholesterol – LDL (bad cholesterol) should be less than 100 mg/dl; HDL (good cholesterol) should be higher than 40 in men and higher than 50 in women; triglycerides should be lower than 150
In addition to the ADA campaign, many other medical centers have published heart health strategies and benefits of controlling diabetes, including the University of Maryland Baltimore Washington Medical Center. In a published piece from their media center, they suggest some highly effective lifestyle changes including:
- Be active. Aim for about 30 minutes of exercise most days.
- Eat a heart-healthy diet. Reduce consumption of high-fat and cholesterol-laden foods and eat more high-fiber foods. Limit prepared snack foods because many contain trans fats, which contribute to diabetes and heart disease.
- If you’re overweight, try to shed the pounds. A registered dietitian can help you create a healthy but reasonable diet that you can maintain.
- Quit smoking.