Diabetic heart disease is a term that refers to heart disease in people with diabetes. If you have diabetes you are at a higher risk for heart disease, may develop it at a younger age and may have more severe heart disease than those who do not have diabetes.
According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, there are three specific conditions affecting people with diabetes and heart disease
: coronary heart disease, heart failure, and diabetic cardiomyopathy.
Coronary heart disease is caused by plaque build-up in arteries to the heart. It can lead to blocked arteries and blood clots, causing chest pain, irregular heartbeat and heart attacks.
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Heart failure involving diabetes occurs when your heart isn't pumping enough blood and can cause fatigue so extreme you must limit your activities. The third condition, diabetic cardiomyopathy, damages the heart itself and can make the other conditions worse.
A strong link exists between diabetes and heart disease. At least 65 percent of diabetics die of some form of heart disease or stroke, according to the American Heart Association.
Adults with diabetes are two to four times more likely to have heart disease or stroke as those who do not have diabetes.
The good news is that diabetes is one of the main controllable risk factors for heart disease and controlling it will reduce the risk of heart disease, the AHA reports.
Both diabetes and heart disease need to be monitored and treated aggressively. According to WebMD,
Dr. Tina Ken Schramm, a researcher at Denmark's Gentofte University Hospital says, "Adults who need glucose-lowering drugs are at very high risk for heart attacks and strokes, and they need to be monitored closely for this and treated with appropriate medications."
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Dr. Schramm and researchers found that diabetics are twice as likely as non-diabetics to die from a heart attack.
Taking medications helps in the treatment of diabetes, but diabetics must pay special attention to a healthy lifestyle. Smoking cigarettes doubles your risk for heart disease.
People who develop diabetes and continue to smoke still have a high risk for heart disease, despite reducing other risk factors, which won't be as effective with the negative smoking effects.
Other lifestyle changes to reduce the risk for diabetic heart disease include controlling blood pressure, exercising regularly, managing your weight, and aggressively managing your cholesterol. These healthy habits help treat diabetes while lowering the risk of heart disease.
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