It's true—diabetes raises your risk of heart disease. That means your risks of heart attack and stroke are higher when you have diabetes. Diabetes is plenty to keep up with as it is. That explains why dealing with both heart risk and diabetes can seem like too much all at once.
But it's also true that good heart-health care has a lot in common with good diabetes care.
Experts do not fully understand how diabetes affects the heart. Heart disease can be caused by high blood sugar, insulin resistance, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. But genetics and lifestyle may also affect a person's risk. For example, if you smoke, you are at a higher risk for heart and blood vessel disease than someone who does not smoke.
Your risk of having heart disease is even higher if you have:
You can lower your heart disease risk by:
This isn't as hard as it might sound. Many of the same healthy habits help control your blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol, and weight.
You're probably already doing more for your heart than you think.
Plan your foods with diabetes in mind. Then think heart-healthy, and make changes if needed.
You can choose from several heart-healthy eating plans to help control your blood pressure and cholesterol.
Being active is good for your diabetes and for your heart. It helps manage your blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol. And it plays a key part in controlling your weight. In turn, a healthy weight also helps control your diabetes and heart risk.
Your doctor might suggest a cholesterol and triglyceride test based on your age or your risk for heart disease. Talk to your doctor about when a cholesterol test is right for you.
For more information, see When to Have a Cholesterol Test.
For more information, see Statins: Should I Take Them? and Aspirin: Should I Take Daily Aspirin to Prevent a Heart Attack or Stroke?
Other Works Consulted
- American Diabetes Association (2017). Standards of medical care in diabetes—2017. Diabetes Care, 40(Suppl 1): S1–S135.
- De Ferranti SD, et al. (2014). Type 1 diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular disease: A scientific statement from the American Heart Association and American Diabetes Association. Diabetes Care, published online August 11, 2014. DOI: 10.2337/dc14-1720. Accessed September 4, 2014.
- Eckel RH, et al. (2013). 2013 AHA/ACC guideline on lifestyle management to reduce cardiovascular risk: A report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines. Circulation. http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/early/2013/11/11/01.cir.0000437740.48606.d1.citation. Accessed December 5, 2013.
- Fox CS, et al. (2015). Update on prevention of cardiovascular disease in adults with type 2 diabetes mellitus in light of recent evidence: A scientific statement from the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association. Diabetes Care, 38(9):1777–1803. DOI: 10.2337/dci15-0012. Accessed September 29, 2015.
- Low Wang CC, et al. (2016). Cardiovascular disease in diabetes mellitus: Atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease and heart failure in type 2 diabetes mellitus—Mechanisms, management, and clinical considerations. Circulation, 133: 2459–2502. DOI:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.116.022194. Accessed November 25, 2016.
- Skyler JS, et al. (2009). Intensive glycemic control and the prevention of cardiovascular events: Implications of the ACCORD, ADVANCE, and VA Diabetes Trials: A position statement of the American Diabetes Association and a scientific statement of the American College of Cardiology Foundation and the American Heart Association. Diabetes Care, 32(1), 187–192.
- Smith SC, et al. (2011). AHA/ACCF secondary prevention and risk reduction therapy for patients with coronary and other atherosclerotic vascular disease: 2011 update: A guideline from the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology Foundation. Circulation, 124(22): 2458–2473. Also available online: http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/124/22/2458.full.
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