Is There a Connection Between Heart Disease and Diabetes?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adults with diabetes are nearly twice as likely as non-diabetics to die from heart disease or stroke. These medical conditions are the leading causes of death in diabetic adults.

Understanding the connection between heart disease and diabetes can help you keep from becoming a victim. So, let’s take a closer look at both, their connection and what you can do to decrease your risk.

What is Diabetes?

woman testing blood sugar for diabetesDiabetes develops when your body is unable to produce enough insulin or use insulin properly. Diabetes is classified into two types. Type 2 diabetes is most common and occurs when your body isn’t regulating glucose properly, while type 1 is typically genetic.

If you have type 1 diabetes, your pancreas produces little or no insulin. In type 2 diabetes, your pancreas either fails to produce enough insulin, or the insulin is ignored by the cells in your body. Diabetes should not be ignored, especially considering it is a condition that can increase your risk of heart disease.

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What is Heart Disease?

Heart disease refers to a group of conditions that affect the heart. Heart diseases include:

high heart rate and diabetes
  • Blood vessel disease, such as coronary artery disease
  • Heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias)
  • Heart defects

They can be classified as ‘congenital heart diseases’ that occur at birth or ‘acquired heart diseases’ that develop during a lifetime. Heart diseases are also grouped according to the parts of the heart, blood vessels and systems they affect.

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The Connection Between Heart Disease and Diabetes

When your body is digesting food, it will turn most of the food into glucose. The function of insulin is to help glucose enter the cells in your body so that it can be used as energy. If you are suffering from diabetes and your body is not producing enough insulin, the glucose will build up in your blood instead of entering the cells, resulting in higher blood sugar levels.

woman getting a checkup with doctor for heart diseaseHigh blood sugar levels can harm the lining of your blood vessels and lead to atherosclerosis, which is a major risk factor for heart disease. Diabetes-related elevated blood sugar levels have the potential to harm not just your blood vessels but also the nerves that regulate your heart and blood vessels over time. Your risk of developing heart disease increases the longer you have diabetes.

People who have higher insulin resistance, such as type 2 diabetics, also have higher levels of fibrinogen in their blood. Fibrinogen is an essential protein that causes your blood to clot so you will not lose too much blood when you are bleeding. However, excessive fibrinogen in your blood can cause blood clots to form in your arteries and increase your chances of stroke. If you’re living with Type 2 diabetes, you’re two to six times more susceptible to heart attack than those who aren’t, and heart attacks are typically fatal in diabetes patients.

What You Can Do About It

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, according to the CDC. Millions of American adults still live with some form of cardiovascular disease or the after-effects of stroke, so being diagnosed with heart disease does not have to be a death sentence. However, it’s recommended that adults living with these medical conditions take action to protect their health.

cardiac testing in patients with diabetes The first step you can take is to get a heart screening. There are several different non-invasive tests available. With Liberty HealthShare, we want our members to find the most affordable healthcare procedures. You’re always welcome to choose your doctor without network restrictions. Then our medical-cost-sharing community can help you with the rest.

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