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How people with diabetes are more at risk of heart diseases. Tips for prevention | Health

Diabetes mellitus is associated with a very high chance of getting heart disease. Data from the American National Heart associations showed that 65% of people with diabetes die from some sort of heart disease or stroke. Type 2 diabetes mellitus is associated with two to four times more chances of developing heart disease, and it is one of the leading causes of death in these individuals.

The Framingham Study showed that multiple health factors — including diabetes — could increase the possibility of developing heart disease, including high blood pressure, smoking, increased cholesterol level, and a family history of early heart disease. In general, if a person has more risk factors of heart disease, then he has a higher likelihood of dying from it. For example, people with diabetes mellitus with another risk factor for heart disease have two to four times more chance of dying than the average population with the same risk factors.

Thus, while a person with one health risk factor, such as high blood pressure, may have a certain chance of dying from heart disease, diabetes has double or even quadruple the risk of dying. Yet another study found that persons with diabetes who had no other risk factors of heart disease would be five times more likely to die with hard edges than those without it.

ALSO READ | Reversing diabetes: 3 habits that can help control your sugar levels

Heart disease experts recommend that all people with diabetes have their heart disease risk factors treated as aggressively as those who already have a heart attack.

Why Diabetics are at risk of heart diseases

One of the most common causes of heart disease in diabetes is the hardening of coronary arteries or atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is the deposit of cholesterol in blood vessels that supply oxygen and nutrition to the heart. 

When these cholesterol plaques get broken, the body repairs them by sending platelets to seal them up. These platelets further accumulate to form a thrombus which leads to complete blockage of blood vessels supplying oxygen and nutrition to the heart, thereby causing the heart attack

Not only are people with diabetes at higher risk for heart disease, but they are also at higher risk for heart failure, a severe medical condition in which the heart is unable to pump blood adequately. This can lead to fluid build-up in the lungs that causes difficulty breathing or fluid retention in other parts of the body (especially the legs) that causes swelling.

Symptoms of heart attack

*Shortness of breath.

*Feeling dizzy.

*Excessive and unexplained sweating

*Pain in the shoulders, jaw, and left arm.

*Chest pain or pressure (especially during activity).


Not everyone has pain and these classic symptoms of a heart attack. This is especially true for women. If one has any of the above symptoms, one should contact a doctor immediately.

There are several treatment options for heart disease with diabetes, depending on the severity of the heart disease. Patients are kept on regular blood thinning and cholesterol-reducing medications along with other supportive drugs. In addition, cardiac interventions in the form of angiography and angioplasty or coronary artery bypass surgery may be required to treat the cardiac condition effectively.

The age-old saying goes that prevention is better than cure and the best way to prevent heart disease is to take good care of yourself and your diabetes. The following are few good tips for preventing heart disease in diabetic patients

Tips to prevent heart disease in Diabetics

*Keep your blood sugar as normal as possible.

*Control your blood pressure and try to keep it around 120/80 mmHg. Take regular medications to achieve this goal if required

*Get your cholesterol level checked and keep it under control with the help of diet, exercise, and, if required, regular medications.

*Try to maintain ideal or near-ideal weight

*Exercise regularly.

*Eat a heart-healthy diet such as.

*Stop smoking and consuming tobacco in any form

*Work to reduce daily stress by practicing Yoga and other pressure-lowering measures.

(Dr Nityanand Tripathi is Director & Unit Head – Cardiology & Electrophysiology, Fortis Hospital Shalimar Bagh; the views expressed by author are his own)

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