How Does Diabetes Affect the Heart?
Diabetes is not a disease wherein you can take medication for a week and be cured. It is a long-term disease that affects various parts of the body. And for this very reason, it demands severe lifestyle changes. One of the biggest risks that the disease poses is the impact that it has on the heart.
Diabetes occurs as a result of increasing insulin resistance which leads to a higher amount of glucose in the bloodstream. Over a long period of time, this constricts the arteries, damages blood vessels and nerves, therefore blocking blood flow to the heart and the brain. This can gradually cause serious cardiovascular diseases, and in several cases, a fatal heart attack or a stroke.
It was the Framingham Study that first proved that diabetics were more likely to develop serious heart conditions than those who did not suffer from the disease.
The study also showed that diabetic patients were highly likely to develop other conditions that could increase the chances of getting a heart disease. The statistics of deaths caused by heart attack among diabetic patients are no less than shocking!
According to research, the chance of dying because of a heart attack among diabetic patients is two to four times higher than those without the disease. In fact, even diabetics who are young and have no other health risks have five times higher the chance of dying of a heart attack than others who do not. Hence, the longer you suffer from diabetes, the more risk you put your heart to.
Heart diseases and heart failure due to diabetes
Heart diseases are most often caused when there is a high amount of cholesterol in blood vessels that supply oxygen to the heart. Since diabetics are prone to higher cholesterol levels and thickening of arteries, it is no surprise that they are most prone to heart diseases. Another major cause of diabetes affecting the heart is a blockage (or several) in the arteries.
When cholesterol plaques get ruptured and the body attempts to seal it with platelets, more often than not, the platelets end up blocking the artery which is already constricted due to the effect of diabetes. This blockage may lead to a stoppage in the supply of blood and oxygen to the heart, causing attacks and strokes.
In addition to heart attacks and strokes, diabetics are also prone to congestive heart failure. Diabetes weakens the heart ventricles, making them unable to pump blood to the body. The blood flow slows down, causing blood and fluid to build up in the heart, lungs, feet and legs.
Over a period of time, the heart muscles become thicken in order to pump more blood, and eventually become weaker with every passing day.
7 ways to protect your heart if you are a diabetic
Simply being diagnosed with diabetes makes you vulnerable to deadly heart diseases. Thus, the most important step to prevent this is to keep a strict check on your diabetes. If you have prediabetes, you can reverse your diabetes by following a strict regimen of staying active and eating healthy.
If you have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes or have gestational diabetes, it is imperative that you take steps to curb diabetes with full throttle. Here are a few effective ways that will lower the risks that diabetes poses to the heart:
- Reduce stress: Stress plays the most significant role in increasing diabetes, so an effective way to minimize that increase is to stay away from stressful situations. If that is not possible, balance out m indulging in meditation and yoga, activities that calm the mind.
- Quit smoking: If you are a smoker and have been diagnosed with diabetes, quitting the habit can significantly reduce the effects of the disease since nicotine and tobacco together increase the causes and symptoms of diabetes.
- Regulate blood sugar: Control your blood sugar by consuming the right food and staying active. This will ensure that your blood vessels and arteries do not constrict, therefore, reducing the chances of getting a heart attack.
- Control blood pressure: Take medication (if prescribed) to reduce blood pressure.
- Lose weight: If you suffer from obesity or have belly fat, work towards losing the unwanted weight since higher weight contributes towards heart diseases.
- Check cholesterol: Consume fibre rich foods to reduce cholesterol or take medication, if prescribed.
- Exercise regularly: Daily physical exercise burns fat, lowers blood sugar levels and most importantly, improves heart health. Incorporating the habit of exercising regularly will go a long way to protect your heart and reduce diabetes.
The fact that diabetes occurs widely across the world leads to the assumption that it is not a serious disease. However, the disease puts your heart at direct risk and is a major cause of heart attacks, heart failures and deaths. Bring about strict changes to your lifestyle and you are sure to add decades to your life!