The Diabetes and Heart Disease Connection

People who suffer from diabetes are at high risk for heart disease. In a nutshell that’s the diabetes and heart disease connection.

I’m sure you’ve heard the children’s song with these cute lyrics: “The foot bone connected to the ankle bone, Ankle bone connected to the leg bone …”*

Who would have guessed that your pancreas and heart are connected!

If you’re paying attention to your heart health, you’ve probably read and heard a lot about risks for people who have diabetes. That’s because there’s a major connection between the two diseases.

If you prefer video, then here you are:

According to the American Diabetes Association, people who are diabetic are twice as likely to have heart disease than those who aren’t diabetic.

Even more sobering, a diabetic who has a heart attack is also more likely to die from that heart attack. Two out of three adults with diabetes die from heart disease or stroke.

My Story
In 2015 I was diagnosed with prediabetes. Most people with prediabetes eventually become type 2 diabetics. You can read about how I fought diabetes here.

Risk Factors

Part of the reason for the diabetes – heart disease connection may be the common traits of people who are diabetic and those at risk for heart disease. For example, many people who are diabetic are overweight, which is a known risk factor for heart disease.

Diabetics are also more likely to be sedentary and to have high blood pressure. This combination of risk factors would make anyone at risk for heart disease.

What may make diabetes a more special case for cardiac risk is insulin-resistance.

Insulin resistance is known to increase triglyceride and LDL levels (the bad cholesterol) and also cause HDL (good cholesterol) to be lower. This can lead to hardening of the arteries.

Hardening of the arteries, or atherosclerosis, is the major contributor to heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes. Therefore people who have diabetes are more likely to have high cholesterol and atherosclerosis.

Lifestyle Changes

But there is actually some good news.

While people with diabetes have a much greater risk of developing heart disease, there are ways you can prevent this problem.

Committing to lifestyle changes and proper treatment for diabetes can help to prevent the risk of heart disease that goes hand-in-hand with diabetes.

Better still, the right lifestyle changes can treat the symptoms of type 2 diabetes and even reverse it in many cases.

These lifestyle changes include a diet low in simple carbohydrates and high in fiber. Do you have questions about what sort of diet changes will help you? You may want to meet with a dietitian who can go over your current eating habits and help you improve them.

Many people overhaul their diet, only to find they’ve done so incorrectly.

For example, most fat-free products increase the sugar content (simple carbohydrates). This makes the product unhealthy for diabetics (and for all other people, too).

Another important lifestyle change is to add regular exercise into your life.

The best exercise to begin with is walking. Make a commitment to walk for 30 minutes every day. A daily walk can reduce your risk factors for prediabetes, diabetes, and heart disease.

Health First

Nothing is more valuable than your health.

If you have a family history of diabetes and heart disease, you should go ahead and make sure you live a healthy lifestyle even if you haven’t been diagnosed.

This can save you from ever having to deal with the dangerous effects of these diseases.

What if you have been diagnosed with prediabetes? Well, maybe these facts about the diabetes and heart disease connection will motivate you to try reversing your prediabetes.

* It turns out there is quite a history to this song. You can learn more here.