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Diabetes And Heart Disease - Are They Connected?

Reviewed by
Dr. Priyanka Bhargava 90% (49 ratings)
Bachelor of Ayurveda medicine and surgery
Ayurvedic Doctor, Bhopal  •  3 years experience
Diabetes And Heart Disease - Are They Connected?

Our body cells are responsible for the essential breakdown of food into energy, as it is vital for our body functioning. Cells break down food into glucose and then convert glucose into energy through insulin, which is an important hormone in the body. Diabetes is associated with the inappropriate functioning of insulin and can be classified into two types: Type I and Type 2 Diabetes. In type I diabetes, the body does not make enough insulin. In type 2 diabetes, the cells do not use insulin properly.

Both conditions cause blood glucose levels to rise in the body. Diabetes is more than one disease as it poses serious health risks. People with diabetes are at risk of developing a host of problems such as stroke, hypertension, nerve damage, skin, eyes and kidney problems. High amount of blood sugar level can cause damage to the blood vessels leading to blocked arteries restricting blood flow to the heart. Poor blood glucose control can lead to high blood pressure and other blood lipid abnormalities including high levels of HDL (good cholesterol) and triglycerides.

The link between cardiovascular disease and diabetes is well established by medical science. It is estimated that 65% of people with diabetes die of heart disease, which makes it a leading cause of all deaths among diabetic patients. Doctors refer to this connection as DHD- Diabetic Heart Disease. The term Diabetic Heart Disease covers coronary heart disease; narrowing of the arteries, heart failure; minimising heart’s capacity to pump enough blood and diabetic cardiomyopathy; alteration in the structure and function of the heart.

Diagnosis - 

There are three primary blood tests, which are used for the diagnosis of pre-diabetes: 

  1. Fasting plasma glucose test
    • You should not eat anything for eight hours before this blood test.
    • The blood sugar level is considered normal when it is less than 100.
    • If your blood sugar level is between 100 and 125, you are in the pre-diabetes stage.
    • If your blood sugar level is above 125, you are diagnosed with diabetes. 
  2. Oral glucose tolerance test
    • First, you need to have a fasting glucose test done and drink a sugary solution (75 gm glucose dissolved in water) after it.  After two hours, another blood test is taken. 
    • The blood sugar level is considered normal when it is lesser than 140. 
    • If your blood sugar level is between 140 and 199, you are in the pre-diabetes stage. 
    • If your blood sugar level is above 200, you are diagnosed with diabetes. 
  3. Hemoglobin A1C 
    • This blood test shows the average blood sugar level for three to four months in the past. It helps to check whether pre-diabetes is in control or not. 
    • The blood sugar level is considered normal when it is 5.6%. 
    • If your blood sugar level is between 5.7% and 6.4%, you are in the pre-diabetes stage. 
    • If your blood sugar level is 6.5% or above, you are diagnosed with diabetes. 
    • The test should be redone for checking or verifying the results. 

A sedentary lifestyle with little or no physical activity, smoking, stressful life and unhealthy eating habits all contribute to weight gain, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart diseases and diabetes. Thus, weight and lifestyle issues management is the best way to prevent and control such health risks.

Let’s look at some simple but effective ways towards a healthy lifestyle: 

  1. Physical exercise: Adopt a 30-minute exercise rule to remain healthy and fit. For diabetic patients, a morning and evening walk is highly recommended. You could walk, run, gym, climb stairs, do yoga, aerobics or other physical activity that interests you.
     
  2. Eat healthy: Avoid fried and packaged foods as they are full of fats, salt and sugar. Include seasonal vegetables and fruits in your diet and drink plenty of water. Dieticians recommend eating a heart-healthy diet including superfoods like broccoli, spinach, berries and fibre rich meal.
     
  3. Weight managementKeeping weight under check is an effective way to prevent the risk of heart diseases. Taking low carb and high protein diet is also responsible for weight loss and decreasing sugar levels. Consult a dietician for a customised diet plan as per your medical condition.
     
  4. Be positive: Stress is a silent killer and a major contributor to all lifestyle diseases. Remain calm and manage your negative thoughts to overcome stress.

Health is the ultimate treasure you have! Preserve it.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!
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