Heart Complications

If you have diabetes, you have a higher-than-average risk of having a heart attack or a stroke. There is a connection between diabetes, heart disease and stroke. In fact, two out of three people with diabetes die from heart disease or stroke.

Prevent heart complications

Even if you have diabetes, there are steps you can take to lower your chances of having heart and blood vessel disease. Below are some recommendations from the American Diabetes Association on ways to lower your risk:

  • Your A1C test – Keep your A1C number within the range recommended by your doctor. The test gives you a better picture of your average blood sugar numbers for the past two to three months. It tells you how well your diabetes treatment plan is working.
  • Your blood pressure – If you have high blood pressure, it makes your heart work harder than it should. This also increases your risk for heart disease, stroke and other problems. Two out of three people with diabetes report having high blood pressure or take prescription medications to lower blood pressure. Healthy blood pressure should be below 120/80 while early high blood pressure is between 120/80 and 140/90.
  • Your cholesterol – Your cholesterol number measures the amount of fat in your blood. High-density lipoproteins (HDL) or “good” cholesterol helps protect your heart while low-density lipoproteins (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol can clog arteries. Triglycerides are another type of fat in your blood that can increase your chances of heart attack or stroke.

Women with diabetes and heart disease

Women with diabetes have a new threat on the horizon. While men and women generally have similar rates of Type 2 diabetes, women are twice as likely to have heart disease. The good news is that they can do something to lower their risk.

Exercising more frequently is a good way for women with diabetes to lower their risk of a heart attack or stroke. While women are more protected against heart disease prior to menopause, their risk changes with Type 2 diabetes. 

The American Heart Association recently noted that African American and Hispanic women with Type 2 diabetes have higher rates of heart disease and stroke compared to men with diabetes. Women may need to exercise more frequently and more intensely in order to reduce their risk factors, according to the American Heart Association.

Here are some ideas for different ways to get more exercise:

  • Go for a walk or a run
  • Put on some music and dance around your house
  • Play with your kids in the backyard
  • Go swimming in an indoor pool at a community center
  • Go to the gym
  • Go for a bike ride

If you are a woman with diabetes, take charge of your health by making positive changes such as eating healthier and exercising more. In addition, look at the various risk factors contributing to heart disease and stroke, and make sure to follow recommendations that will lower your risk.