Understanding the Link Between Diabetes and Heart Disease

Understanding the link between diabetes and heart disease is extremely vital, especially if you live with type 2 diabetes or know somebody who does. Diabetes is a risk factor for developing heart disease, and heart attack and stroke remain the number one cause of death in people living with diabetes.

Having close family members who have diabetes makes it necessary for me to learn about the disease and to share information that can help people understand the risks that come with having diabetes, including heart disease.

Understanding the Link Between Diabetes and Heart Disease

The most common form of heart disease in diabetes is coronary artery disease or hardening of the arteries.  This happens when fatty deposits block the arteries that supply the heart with blood. If you smoke, have high blood pressure or high cholesterol, do not exercise or eat a balanced diet, your heart is at risk of disease.

And while controlling blood sugar is essential when managing diabetes, there are also diabetes treatments that can reduce the risk of having a heart-related event or dying from heart disease.

Canadians with type 2 diabetes should speak with their doctor about managing and controlling the risks of heart disease. Diabetes Canada also recommends Canadians suffering from diabetes to ask their doctor about the ABCDES to reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke:

  • A  A1C – Glucose control target is usually 7% or less
  • B BP – Blood pressure control (less than 130/80 mmHg)
  • C Cholesterol – LDL cholesterol in less than or equal to 2.0 mmol/L. Your doctor may choose to give you medication to keep your cholesterol at or less than 2.0 mmol/L
  • D Drugs to protect your heart: Blood pressure pills (ACE inhibitors or ARBs), cholesterol-lowering pills (statins), or ASA (Aspirin). These drugs will protect your heart even if your blood pressure or cholesterol is already at target.
  • E Exercise / Eating – Regular physical activity which includes, healthy eating, achievement, and maintenance of healthy body weight
  • S Stop smoking and manage stress

Something I personally do to help my family members with diabetes is to encourage them to write down some of the critical questions to ask their doctor before they have their appointments. They are also elderly and sometimes forget what to ask so having a little note as a reminder has been helpful for them.  Also, since heart disease is often a “silent killer,” without obvious symptoms (like sweating, discomfort or trouble breathing), I help them check their blood pressure regularly, same with their cholesterol and glucose levels to ensure those are under control. We purchased at home monitors to do it at home, but you can also check their blood pressure at your local pharmacy for free.

Understanding the Link Between Diabetes and Heart Disease

Remember that even if your blood glucose is well managed, this doesn’t necessarily mean you are protected from the risks of heart disease. Understanding the risks that come with diabetes can help you take the necessary steps to help you reduce the risk of heart disease.

Knowledge can be life-saving so talk to your doctor! You can visit myheartmatters.ca to learn more and be sure to try the Risk Assessment Tool to find out your risk of type 2 diabetes-related heart disease.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by an alliance of two of Canada’s leading research-based pharmaceutical companies. However, all opinions and views on this post are 100% my own.

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Angela V

Founder and Writer at One Smiley Monkey blog
Hi, my name is Angela van Tijn and I live in Vancouver, Canada with my wonderful husband, our two boys and our puppy. I am the founder and primary contributor behind One Smiley Monkey. Welcome to my blog!

12 responses to “Understanding the Link Between Diabetes and Heart Disease”

  1. Thanks for spreading light on this serious issue.

  2. Such an important message!

  3. Writing down questions you want/need to ask is important, I know I used to do that when going to see my gynaecologist, it was the only way I’d remember them all! I do know of an aunt who was taken to see her Dr by her daughters due to her age. She had cancer for years and her Dr told her time and again but she insisted he’d never said that, she’d argue with her daughters about it too. So it’s also a good idea to have someone to accompany an elderly person when seeing a Dr, they remember much better what’s been said and what questions need to be asked.

  4. My brother had diabetes towards the end and a school friend has had it for a long time now. She sometimes has to inject herself when we go out for a meal together. She and her husband are coming to visit in the summer and I’m very excited about their visit. 🙂

  5. Thank you for sharing this information! It is good to learn about this – it is important information for diabetics.

  6. This is such a crucial message. My father had both diabetes and heart disease. I went with him to all of his appointments. It is definitely a good idea to write things down. I often left the office and had forgotten to mention something to his doctor.

  7. I was diagnosed with pre diabetes I have changed my eating habits and exercising a lot more. I don’t want to end up with diabetes

  8. Very important information! I didn’t realize there was such a strong correlation between the two diseases! It’s good to know that with some simple prevention steps you can help keep the risks at bay

  9. I constantly worry about my mother because she’s almost 76 but she has high blood pressure and she doesn’t exercise. I also have diabetes and heart disease that runs in my family.
    I just want my mother here and healthy for as long as I can.
    This is a great post !

  10. thank you for the great post. Lots to consider and learn !

  11. Great post! My Dad is a Type 2 Diabetic who has also had two heart attacks and open heart surgery…

  12. Those wooden blocks are fantastic for kids learning to spell. 🙂