Heart disease is more likely to occur in people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes
Heart disease is a complication that may affect people with diabetes if their condition is not managed well for a prolonged period of time.
Coronary heart disease is recognized to be the cause of death for 80% of people with diabetes, however, the NHS states that heart attacks are largely preventable.
How are heart disease and diabetes linked?
People suffering from type 1 and type 2 diabetes are more likely to be at risk from heart attacks, strokes and high blood pressure.
Vascular problems, such as poor circulation to the legs and feet, are also more likely to affect diabetes patients.
Like diabetes itself, the symptoms of cardiovascular disease may go undetected for years.
The risk of cardiovascular disease in people with diabetes is
• 5 times higher in middle aged men
• 8 times higher in women with diabetes.
Who does heart disease affect?
Many people think that heart disease only affects the middle-aged and elderly. However, serious cardiovascular disease may develop in diabetics before the age of 30.Both type 1 and type 2 diabetics are at greater risk of developing heart disease.What is the cause of heart disease amongst diabetics?The lining of the blood vessels may become thicker, and this in turn can impair blood flow.Heart problems and the possibility of stroke can occur.
What symptoms can identify heart disease?
The following are common symptoms of heart disease, although this may vary from individual to individual:
• Pain in the chest
• Short of breath
• Irregular heartbeat
• Swelling of ankles
Heart attack (myocardial infarction)
A heart attack is commonly caused by a clot preventing blood supply to the heart.
The symptoms of a heart attack include a strong pain or tightness in the Centre of the chest, shortage of breath, coughing and a strong feeling of anxiety.
People with diabetes and signs of coronary heart disease will be advised to make lifestyle changes such as stopping smoking, eating a healthy, balanced diet and incorporating physical activity into each day.
How can I prevent heart disease?
To prevent heart disease, a number of factors must be considered. It is imperative to control your weight, through regular exercise and a balanced diet, avoid or quit smoking (if you smoke), and limit the amount of alcohol that you drink. You should also have both your cholesterol and blood pressure checked at least once each year.
Controlling your blood sugar levels is also essential in both prevention and treatment, with research showing that reducing HbA1c by 1% decreases the risk of heart failure by 16% in people with type 2 diabetes.
A recent study from Washington University in St Louis may explain why more than 75 percent of diabetics die of heart disease (Journal for the American College of Cardiology, February 7, 2006).
The heart muscle of diabetics uses a much higher percentage of fat for energy than that of non-diabetics, to markedly increase risk for heart attacks.
The energy source for heart muscle is mostly sugar and fat , and to a lesser degree, protein. Muscles need far more oxygen to process fat than to process sugar. The blood supply to heart muscle comes from large arteries on the outside of the heart.
How Diabetes Causes Heart Attacks
Diabetics have narrowed arteries because high blood sugar levels cause plaques to form and reduce the diameter of the coronary arteries. The increased need for blood flow from burning fat and the decreased blood flow from narrowed arteries put diabetics at very high risk for heart attacks, heart failure and sudden death.
The increased use of oxygen increases blood levels of oxidants that further damage the inner linings of arteries.