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Diabetes and Heart Health

Diabetes and Heart Health

Diabetes and heart disease are more connected than you might think. A person with diabetes is twice as likely to have a heart attack or stroke compared to someone who doesn't. That's because high blood sugar can damage the blood vessels and nerves around your heart. Here are some other connections between diabetes and heart disease you should know. 

People with diabetes are more likely to have high: 

• LDL. That's the "bad" cholesterol that causes plaque to build up in arteries. 

• Blood pressure. Having both diabetes and high blood pressure dramatically increases heart disease risk. 

• Triglycerides and low HDL ("good" cholesterol). This is a type of fat that builds up in—and stiffens—arteries. 

Luckily, there is a lot you can do to help prevent both diabetes and heart disease. It starts with managing the diabetes ABCS: 

A – A1C Get your A1C tested regularly to track your average blood sugar over time. 

B – Blood Pressure Watch your blood pressure and keep it in the zone your health care provider recommends. 

C – Cholesterol Stay on top of your cholesterol levels. Keep them down with lifestyle changes and medication your provider may prescribe. 

S – Smoking Don't smoke. If you smoke, find a smoking cessation program, and stick to it. 

Here are some other things that cut your heart disease and diabetes risk: 

• Manage stress. Not only can it increase blood pressure, it might also make you want to do other things that raise your risk, like overindulge in sweets. 

• Eat right. For overall good health (and to help prevent disease), pile on the produce. Choose lean proteins and whole grains. And skip processed foods as much as you can. 

• Exercise. Physical activity helps lower blood sugar. When done regularly, it can help prevent or manage diabetes. 

• Lose weight. If you're overweight, losing even a few pounds can help reduce triglycerides and blood sugar. 

• Consider medicine. You may benefit from drugs that can reduce blood pressure, lower cholesterol, manage blood sugar or help you lose weight. Talk to your provider about what's right for you. 

• Get tested. There are tests you can take to evaluate your heart's current health and heart disease risk. Your health care provider can tell you what tests to schedule. 

If you have questions about diabetes or heart disease, Lake Charles Memorial Health System is here to help.  

Memorial Diabetes Education is a resource for patients with diabetes – providing care and education for self-management of diabetes. Click here to learn more >>> 

The Heart and Vascular Center at Memorial is a top-rate, regional leader in cardiovascular care. Our services are designed to provide comprehensive cardiovascular care by a team committed to helping our patients live full, rewarding and healthy lives. Click here to learn more >>> 

Sources: American Diabetes Association; American Heart Association; Cardiovascular Research Foundation; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention