Cardiovascular disease is common among people with diabetes. The term “cardiovascular disease” describes many conditions affecting circulation in the body:
- Heart disease results when blood circulating to the heart is slowed or stopped because of a blocked vessel
- Heart failure occurs when the heart loses its ability to effectively pump blood
- Stroke results when blood flow to the brain is blocked
Family history of early heart disease and older age are strong risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Other common risk factors include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, and smoking.
Persons with diabetes are two to four times more likely than others to develop cardiovascular disease – it is the leading cause of death in diabetes.
Seek medical attention…
- If you experience chest discomfort when you walk or exercise
- If you have chest pain accompanied by fatigue or shortness of breath
- If your resting heart rate is usually faster than 100 beats per minute
- If you are a young man with erectile dysfunction
Doctors use a variety of tests to detect cardiovascular disease. An EKG can reveal whether the heart’s electrical activity is normal. If it’s not, a stress test on a treadmill can provide further information. If you are not able to walk on a treadmill, your doctor may “stress” your heart by injecting medications through an IV. This medicine can cause the heart to beat fast and mimic the stress of exercise. Some patients may have an echocardiogram, which provides pictures of the heart to reveal how well the muscles of the heart pump blood.
Reduce your risk today by making the following changes. Ask your doctor to help you:
- Quit smoking
- Lose weight
- Eat a healthy diet
- Exercise regularly
- Control your blood pressure
- Improve your cholesterol
- Set an appropriate HbA1c goal with your doctor and work toward that goal