Diabetes mellitus is associated with a very high risk of getting heart disease. Data from the US National Cardiology Associations showed that 65% of people with diabetes die from heart disease or stroke. Type 2 diabetes mellitus is associated with two to four times the risk of developing heart disease, and it is one of the leading causes of death in these people.
The Framingham study showed that several health factors, including diabetes, may increase the risk of developing heart disease, including high blood pressure, smoking, increased cholesterol levels, and a family history of early heart disease. . In general, if a person has more risk factors for heart disease, then they have a higher chance of dying from it. For example, people with diabetes mellitus who have another risk factor for heart disease are two to four times more likely to die than the average population with the same risk factors.
So while a person with a health risk factor, such as high blood pressure, may have some chance of dying from heart disease, diabetes has double or even quadruple the risk of dying. Another study found that people with diabetes who didn’t have other risk factors for heart disease were five times more likely to die with hard edges than those without.
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Heart disease experts recommend that all people with diabetes have their risk factors for heart disease treated as aggressively as those who have had a heart attack.
Why people with diabetes are at risk for heart disease
One of the most common causes of heart disease in diabetes is hardening of the coronary arteries or atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is the deposit of cholesterol in the blood vessels that supply the heart with oxygen and nutrients.
When these cholesterol plaques break down, the body repairs them by sending platelets to seal them. These platelets further accumulate to form a thrombus which leads to complete blockage of the blood vessels providing oxygen and nutrition to the heart, thus causing the heart attack.
Not only are people with diabetes at a higher risk for heart disease, they are also at a higher risk for heart failure, a serious condition in which the heart is unable to pump blood adequately. This can cause fluid to build up in the lungs which causes difficulty in breathing or water retention in other parts of the body (especially the legs) which causes swelling.
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Symptoms of heart attack
* Shortness of breath.
*Scared of heights.
* Excessive and unexplained sweating
* Pain in 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 any of the above symptoms occur, a doctor should be contacted immediately.
There are several treatment options for heart disease associated with diabetes, depending on the severity of the heart disease. Patients are regularly given anticoagulants and cholesterol-lowering drugs, as well as other supportive drugs. In addition, cardiac procedures in the form of angiography and angioplasty or coronary artery bypass grafting may be required to effectively treat heart disease.
The 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. Here are some great tips for preventing heart disease in diabetic patients
Tips for preventing 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 medication to achieve this goal if necessary
*Get your cholesterol level checked and keep it under control with regular diet, exercise and, if necessary, medication.
*Try to maintain an ideal or near ideal weight
*Eat a heart-healthy diet, for example.
*Stop smoking and using tobacco in any form
*Work to reduce daily stress by practicing yoga and other pressure reducing measures.
(Dr Nityanand Tripathi is Director and Head of Unit – Cardiology and Electrophysiology, Fortis Hospital Shalimar Bagh; the opinions expressed by the author are his own)
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