What Is The Connection Between Diabetes And Cardiovascular Disease?


Did you know that people with diabetes are almost twice as likely to develop cardiovascular disease? Cardiovascular disease is a common health issue that many people have heard of. But the connection between diabetes and cardiovascular disease may not be as well known. It is important to understand what these two conditions are and their interconnected risk factors.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is an ongoing health condition in which your body doesn’t make enough insulin or doesn’t use it properly. Insulin is a hormone that helps glucose, or sugar, get into your cells for energy.

There are two main types of diabetes: Type 1 diabetes is when your body fails to make insulin. Type 2 diabetes is when your body can make insulin, but it either doesn’t make enough or doesn’t use it well. Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes, and the majority of people with type 2 diabetes will eventually develop cardiovascular disease.

What is cardiovascular disease?

Cardiovascular disease is a general term for conditions affecting the heart or blood vessels. Some of the main types are:

  • Coronary artery disease: Occurs when your heart muscle’s blood supply is blocked or interrupted by a build-up of fatty substances in the coronary arteries.

  • Stroke: An ischemic stroke occurs when a blood clot or other blockage impairs blood flow to a portion of the brain. Hemorrhagic strokes occur when a blood vessel opens up and bleeding extends to the brain tissue.

  • Peripheral artery disease (PAD): A narrowing or blockage of the vessels that carry blood from the heart to other parts of the body. It frequently occurs in the legs.

  • Aortic disease: A group of conditions affecting the aorta, the largest blood vessel in the body. The most common type is aortic aneurysm, which is where the wall of the aorta becomes weakened and bulges outward.

  • Deep vein thrombosis: A blood clot that forms in the deep veins in your legs and sometimes your arms, causing blockage.

What are the risk factors?

Cardiovascular diseases are the most common complication resulting from diabetes. Several factors increase the risk of cardiovascular disease associated with diabetes. Some include:

  • High blood pressure

  • High low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol

  • Smoking

  • Age – Risk of developing cardiovascular disease increases at age 40, but is highest after age 70

  • Obesity

  • Lack of physical activity

  • Unhealthy diet

  • Family history of cardiovascular diseases

  • Diabetes

How can it be managed?

Through lifestyle changes like proper exercise and diet, and diabetes management, people with diabetes can reduce their risk of developing cardiovascular disease and the complications that come with it. To monitor cardiovascular health, there are also key screenings that can help, such as blood pressure screening, cholesterol blood test, blood glucose test, and vascular screenings to identify PAD and an abdominal aortic aneurysm.

To learn more about vascular and heart care at UM BWMC, visit www.umbwmc.org/vascular for vascular services and www.umbwmc.org/heart for heart services.


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