Why should you care about heart disease?

There are four major killers in America – diabetes, heart disease or stroke, obesity and cancer. Living with diabetes can make you at risk of developing other chronic diseases, especially one that pertains to the heart. In fact, the most common cause of death among persons with diabetes is from heart disease or stroke. When you have diabetes, your chances of developing heart disease almost doubles.

It’s important to follow your physician’s guidelines on blood sugar control. Having high blood sugar can dramatically increase the changes of diabetes complications. If high blood sugar regularly flows through the blood vessels it can end up damaging them and the nerves around it. The nerves are what control your blood vessels and heart and when these are damaged it can cause problems with blood flow, potentially leading to heart disease.

Check out our blog on Why do I have to check my sugar? I feel fine to learn about the benefits of checking blood sugars.

What can you do to lower the risks of Heart Disease?

Give these tips a try to create a healthier lifestyle with diabetes and lower your risk of developing a chronic disease:

  1. Stop Smoking

Smoking makes your blood vessels narrower which means that your heart has to work harder to move your blood around. When you quit smoking, some great changes will happen almost instantly. Here are a few:

  • Your blood circulation will improve
  • It will be easier to maintain a physical lifestyle
  • Decrease risk for other disease such as nerve disease and kidney disease
  1. Regular Physical Activity

Being extremely overweight and/or obese can be another risk factor for developing heart disease. Daily physical activity can help promote a healthy weight, ease stress, and control blood sugar levels. It can lower you LDL or “bad” cholesterol and raise your HDL or “good” cholesterol.

  1. Manage Stress

Having diabetes can be stressful due to the daily medications and new lifestyle changes. Here are some examples of stress-reducing practices for a person with diabetes.

  • Exercise can alleviate stress and increase energy levels
  • Creating a schedule or specific time for when to take your medications
  • Making a list of meals to eat for the week
  • Talk often to your doctor
  1. Control your ABC’s
  • A1c level (blood sugar) aim for below 7, which can be done by incorporating the other tips mentioned and taking the medicine prescribed specifically to you.
  • Blood Pressure- The American Diabetes Association recommends that to keep it below 130/80 mmHg, for individuals with diabetes and hypertension at high risk for heart disease.
  • Cholesterol- Get your numbers checked by your doctor and talk about the risks with your numbers. The other tips can help to reduce your cholesterol levels.
  • It is important to also continue taking the medications prescribed by your doctor
  1. Healthy Eating Plan

Balance your plate by following MyPlate guidelines. Here are some steps to create a healthy eating plan:

  • Avoid Trans-fat and limit Saturated Fats such as all red meats
  • Stick to whole grain and/or whole wheat carbohydrates
  • Portion control: half of your plate with vegetables, one quarter with carbohydrates, and one quarter with protein.