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Sujata Sharma

Diabetes Educator at BeatO

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Manage Your Diabetes To Protect Your Heart

Develop a healthy eating plan, and include a lot of whole grains, lean protein, fresh fruits and vegetables.

Claiming an estimated 17.9 million lives each year, CVDs (Cardiovascular Diseases) or heart diseases have been identified as the number one cause of death globally, as per a report by WHO. The report also underlines that four out of five CVD deaths are caused by heart attacks and strokes, and one third of these deaths are prematurely suffered by people below 70. 

To give you some context CVD is an umbrella term, used for a group of heart and blood vessel disorders, which include rheumatic disease, cerebrovascular disease, coronary heart disease and other conditions. Accumulation of cholesterol deposits, known as Plaque, inside the coronary arteries, narrow them and decrease the blood flow to the heart, causing coronary artery diseases. This hardening of arteries is called atherosclerosis and it can occur in various other body parts as well. When this issue occurs in the legs and feet, it is called peripheral arterial disease or PAD. Interestingly, PAD is one of the early signs of diabetes in a CVD patient. 

With that at the backdrop, understanding the correlation between diabetes and CVDs becomes necessary. Especially when Diabetes is non-contagious and ensues when the body is unable of producing enough insulin or is unable to use insulin effectively. A Diabetic is required to monitor their glucose levels in the blood regularly, as high levels of glucose, which is called hyperglycaemia could be fatal to health. 

The parallels of CVDs and Diabetes

Medical experts and doctors have underscored that a diabetic is more likely to contract heart diseases as compared to non-diabetics and at a younger stage. However, the correlation between diabetes and CVDs is multifactorial and hence complex. To give a better perspective, 44% of deaths in Type I diabetes and 52% deaths in Type II diabetes are commonly caused by CVD.  Let’s take a quick account of the factors that connects CVDs with Diabetes.

There are certain conditions commonly found in most diabetic people, which can majorly contribute to heart diseases -  

High Blood Pressure: A person with Hypertension or High Blood pressure experiences increased force of blood flow through the arteries and can damage artery walls. With that said, the combination of plaque accumulation and strong blood flow escalates the risk of CVDs.    

Obesity: Often strongly associated with insulin resistance, Obesity is a big risk factor for cardiovascular diseases. The chances of heart diseases are higher when there is excess belly fat around the waist, without being overweight. Loss of weight decreases insulin concentration and increases sensitivity, while improving cardiovascular risks.    

Physical inactivity: Absence of physical activity is another major reason for insulin resistance and cardiovascular diseases. Regular workout and weight loss could either prevent or delay the start of diabetes, reduce blood pressure, thereby minimizing the chances of stroke or heart attack.     

Smoking habit: While it is known to all that smoking is injurious to health and heart; it is categorically important to quit smoking for a diabetic. High levels of nicotine from smoking can lessen the effectiveness of insulin, which leads to an increased requirement of insulin to regulate blood sugar levels in smokers. 

One must be appraised of the fact that in case of women with diabetes, there are certain risk factors which are more prevalent in women as compared to men. To give you a better context, women exhibit a higher rate of abdominal obesity. This escalates the risk of High Blood pressure, high cholesterol and imbalanced sugar levels. Furthermore, deficiency of estrogen in diabetic women, known as hypoestrogenemia, increases the risk of contracting CVD.  

Based on the above discussion, it is evident that managing your diabetes is of utmost importance to take care of your heart. Here’s a low down of things you could do to keep your diabetes under check 

Manage the ABCS for your Diabetes

A stands for A1C test: This test shows the average blood glucose level over the past 3 months and is different from the regular blood glucose checks. Higher levels of glucose in the blood is detrimental to various body organs viz. kidney, heart, feet, eyes, blood vessels etc. The A1C goal for most diabetics is below 7 per cent.  

B stands for Blood Pressure: The standard BP goal for most diabetics is below 140/90mm. High BP makes the heart work harder and can easily cause damage to eyes, kidney etc. along with causing heart attack or stroke. 

C stands for Cholesterol: There are two types of cholesterol viz. LDL ‘Bad Cholesterol’, and HDL ‘Good Cholesterol’. Excess of LDL can cause heart attack or stroke and HDL help alleviate the negative impacts of bad cholesterol from the blood vessels. People over 40 years of age mostly resort to medicines to lower cholesterol and for heart care. 

And the S stands for stop smoking! 

Maintain a healthy lifestyle

Develop a healthy eating plan, and include a lot of whole grains, lean protein, fresh fruits and vegetables. Drink lots of water, and decrease consumption of sugary and alcoholic beverages. Apart from that, maintaining a healthy weight is equally important. Likewise, as discussed above, physical activity not only helps manage weight, but also diabetes, and helps lower the risk of heart disease. Above all, maintain a sleep routine and avoid caffeine before sleep. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can go a long way in effectively managing diabetes.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house


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