How Does Diabetes Affect Your Heart?

diabetes and heart health

The CDC estimates about 1 in 10 Americans have diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes by a significant margin.

Diabetes can cause health complications in several parts of your body including your heart, kidneys, feet, hearing, vision, and more. In this post, we will highlight the health complications diabetes can cause for your heart. 

Approximately 38 million Americans are living with diabetes according to the CDC. Someone with diabetes is twice as likely to have heart disease or a stroke compared to someone who is not diabetic.

What is Type 2 Diabetes?

Your pancreas produces insulin, which helps the sugar you consume make its way through your body to be used as energy. When you have type 2 diabetes though, your pancreas is unable to produce enough insulin to manage your sugar.

Your cells also respond poorly to insulin and thus can absorb less sugar. This makes you “insulin resistant.”

Without sufficient insulin, this process eventually results in high blood sugar and diabetes.

How Does Diabetes Affect Your Heart?

Diabetes, particularly if poorly managed or undiagnosed, causes high blood sugar levels. Having high blood sugar can damage your blood vessels, and can eventually lead to heart disease or stroke.

Patients with diabetes are at a greater risk of having fatty deposits on the walls of their arteries that harden and can develop into blockages.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in Americans, as well as the leading cause of death for those living with diabetes.

How Does Heart Disease Occur?

Heart disease results from blood flow being slowed or completely stopped due to a blockage in an artery. Because of the blockage, heart disease can cause a heart attack.

Know the Signs of Heart Diseases

If you or someone you know is diabetic, you should know these common warning signs of heart disease. If you experience any of these, seek medical help immediately.

– Shortness of breath
– Pain in the heart
– Dizziness or lightheaded
– Slow heartbeat
– Fainting

How Does a Stroke Occur?

Similar to heart disease, a stroke is caused by a blockage of blood flow. The key difference between the two is that a stroke is a blockage of blood flow to the brain.

Know the Signs of a Stroke

How quickly you react in the event of a stroke is critical because millions of brain cells are lost each minute during a stroke. If you or someone you know is diabetic, be aware of these signs of stroke and seek medical help immediately.

– Sudden numbness in the face, arm, or legs – particularly on one side of the body
– Sudden difficulty speaking or understanding
– Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
– Sudden trouble walking or dizziness

What Can You Do to Manage Your Risk?

If you are diabetic or prediabetic, it is crucial to see your primary care provider regularly to ensure you are keeping your diabetes under control.

High blood sugar can damage your blood vessels and nerves that control your heart. So keeping your blood sugar levels under control is the best way to manage your risk of heart disease or stroke.

You may be able to reduce these risks, or better manage your diabetes, through exercise and diet. Weight loss can help lower blood pressure and potentially your diabetes care outlook.