Tackle Two at a Time: Treat Your Diabetes and Protect Your Heart

(BPT) - People living with diabetes are two times more likely to die from cardiovascular diseases, such as heart disease, heart failure, heart attack and stroke.i And, nearly 70 percent of people aged 65 or older with diabetes die from some form of heart disease.i

Diabetes can lead to many complications, including having a higher risk for cardiovascular disease. There are many reasons for this. For example, people with diabetes often have high blood pressure and high cholesterol which increases the chances of having heart disease or a stroke.ii Furthermore, over time, high levels of glucose and fats (such as triglycerides) in the blood from diabetes can damage your nerves.iii People with diabetes-related nerve damage may not notice any chest pain, one of the warning signs of a heart attack, which can lead to delays in seeking treatment.ii Sadly, an adult with diabetes in the United States is hospitalized for heart disease every 80 seconds, and an adult with diabetes is hospitalized for stroke every two minutes.iv

Despite the known link between diabetes and heart disease, a 2018 Harris Poll survey examined people aged 45 and older with type 2 diabetes and found that only half of them recognized their risk or had discussed their risk for cardiovascular disease with their healthcare team.v But that can change: if you have diabetes, talk to your healthcare provider about how you can better manage your disease and protect your heart. Do not delay, because the longer you have diabetes, the higher the chances are that you will develop heart disease.ii

The American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association recommend a few tips to care for your heart when you have type 2 diabetes:vi

  • Check in with your doctor regularly and ask specifically about your heart health
  • Maintain healthy eating habits like adding fruits and veggies to your diet
  • Keep exercising and moving
  • Perform self-care to help lower stress
  • Quit smoking
  • Monitor blood glucose, blood pressure, cholesterol and weight
  • Take medication(s) as prescribed

The link between diabetes and heart disease does not need to be twice as scary. When you manage your diabetes, you are also taking care of your heart.



[i] “Cardiovascular Disease and Diabetes.” American Heart Association, https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/diabetes/why-diabetes-matters/cardiovascular-disease--diabetes.

[ii] “Diabetes, Heart Disease, and Stroke.” National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/preventing-problems/heart-disease-stroke.

[iii] “Diabetic Neuropathy.” National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/preventing-problems/nerve-damage-diabetic-neuropathies.

[iv] Know Diabetes by Heart, https://knowdiabetesbyheart.org/.

[v] American Heart Association and American Diabetes Association. (2018). People with T2D Baseline Survey. Online survey; USA. Conducted by The Harris Poll in September 2018. https://www.endocrinologyadvisor.com/home/topics/diabetes/type-2-diabetes/aha-ada-announce-joint-education-initiative-to-reduce-cvd-deaths-in-t2d/.

[vi] “7 Tips to Care for Your Heart When You Have Type 2 Diabetes.” Know Diabetes by Heart, https://knowdiabetesbyheart.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/KDBH_7TipsToCaretoCareforHeart.pdf.