You are definitely at risk of heart disease if…

By: Dr. Victor Marchione | Diabetes | Monday, October 20, 2014 - 05:01 AM

shutterstock_58495486Diabetes and heart disease are two issues you may not have considered go hand in hand. They do.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), diabetes deaths are set to rise by more than 50 percent in the next decade alone. Gaining awareness about this disease and your risk factors has a special importance with such staggering numbers, and now new research could help you do just that.

Research now shows that body inflammation may be behind high blood sugar levels and their damage to blood vessels. Not only this, but anti-inflammatory medications may one day lower the risk of blood vessel disease in people with diabetes.

In a recent study presented at the American Heart Association’s (AHA) High Blood Pressure Research Scientific Sessions 2014, researchers found that in participants without any inflammation in their system, excess glucose in bodily fluid didn’t enter cells. When extra glucose was forced into the cells, no harm was done in the absence of inflammation.

When an inflammation-stimulating protein was introduced to systems, even more glucose entered cells.

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When controlling your blood sugar isn’t enough

Excess glucose spikes blood sugar levels, which is hard on diabetics. When it happens frequently or for long periods of time, it can damage nerves, blood vessels and other organs.

Controlling your blood sugar, while important, isn’t enough. The new research shows that managing your diabetes or protecting yourself from diabetes or any cardiovascular disease is closely linked with inflammation. Finding new medications and ways to prevent and treat inflammation is more important than we may realize.

Diabetics at risk for heart attack and stroke

Diabetes is considered the strongest risk factor for heart disease, according to recent studies by Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, a world leader in diabetes research and education. The center showed a threefold increase in the incidence of heart disease in patients with diabetes compared to those without diabetes.

Women with diabetes, especially, face a risk of getting heart disease. Heart attack and stroke is by far the leading cause of death for people with diabetes.

Another major component of cardiovascular disease is poor circulation in the legs, which raises the risk of foot ulcers and amputations.

But remember, it isn’t just about your blood glucose levels. The blood vessels in patients with diabetes are more susceptible to other well-established risk factors, like smoking, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. More than 90 percent of all diabetics have one or more of these added risk factors.

Obesity is another problem because there is evidence that being overweight, not having enough physical activity or having poor blood glucose control can contribute to high blood pressure.

RELATED READING: Do this one simple thing to manage your diabetes

Ways you can prevent heart disease

In the meantime, the best way to prevent or delay the development of heart disease is to prevent diabetes itself. The good news is you have a lot of control here and decreasing your risk doesn’t have to be a daunting task.

For one thing, smoking is a risk factor for both heart disease and diabetes, so speak to your doctor about kicking the habit for good, if you smoke.

Always watch your blood pressure to make sure it stays in normal range and get your blood glucose under control, too, by eating a balance of proteins and legumes, vegetables, fruits, healthy fats and carbohydrates. Having too many sweets really does sabotage your blood sugar.

However, my best advice to you is also the easiest: Always make sure to get a little bit of physical activity every day. The National Institutes of Health says that modest weight reduction and a 30-minute exercise routine five days every week can reduce the development of type 2 diabetes over three years by more than 50 percent. That’s an impressive number for just a little effort.

It’s these simple changes to your lifestyle that not only reduce your blood sugar and blood pressure, but also inflammation, which can only help to reduce your risk of diabetes and heart disease, too.


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