Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

Heart disease is a common affliction in people who have diabetes. In fact, according to statistics from the American Heart Association, it is estimated that nearly 65% of people who have diabetes will die from a form of heart disease or stroke. Overall, the risk of getting heart disease is twice as high in people who have diabetes. Type 2 diabetes poses several risk factors for your heart that may cause damage to your heart and also increase the risk of developing heart disease. Keeping your diabetes under control will not only protect your heart but it will also improve your heart health. Health experts are of the opinion that people who have diabetes should treat their risk factors on an equivalent level as people who already have heart disease. Let us take a look at how type 2 diabetes affects your heart.

How Does Type 2 Diabetes Affect the Heart?

There is a strong connection between diabetes and heart disease. When doctors start treating diabetes, they also keep in mind that they are potentially treating cardiovascular disease. Diabetes increases the risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke because people having diabetes are at a higher risk for obesity, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Furthermore, high levels of blood sugar also have an effect on the heart health. These complications boost the levels of inflammation in your body, which increases the chances of heart-related events such as heart attack and stroke.

This is why apart from controlling the levels of blood sugar, diabetics also need to control their blood pressure, cholesterol, and their weight in order to protect their heart.
In the event that diabetics suffer a heart attack or stroke, the risk of the attack proving to be fatal is much higher because of the changes at a micro-vessel level that occurs with diabetes. The heart of a diabetic does not recover very well from a heart attack or stroke.

This is why if you have diabetes, then you need to protect your heart all the more.

Effects of Type 2 Diabetes on Your Heart

The biggest factor that causes heart disease in people having diabetes is due to the hardening of your coronary arteries. This condition is known as atherosclerosis, which also leads to a buildup of cholesterol in your blood vessels that supply oxygen to your heart. Type 2 diabetes has many effects on your heart. These risk factors can damage your heart and increase your chances of developing heart disease. Some of these risk factors associated with diabetes that affect your heart are discussed below.

High Blood Sugar Levels

When you have type 2 diabetes, you need to be aware that the disease causes sugar to build up in your bloodstream. In normal people, this sugar is generally broken down by the liver, but in diabetics this process does not happen, which is why the sugar builds up in the bloodstream, placing a strain on the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.

Having high blood sugar levels on a regular basis can damage the blood vessels and the nerves that control your blood vessels. Particularly affected by this are the blood vessels that supply blood to your heart, which increases the risk of heart disease.

High Blood Pressure

Also known as hypertension, high blood pressure is commonly linked to type 2 diabetes. When you have high blood pressure, it puts a lot of strain on your heart. Your heart needs to work twice as hard to pump out the blood, placing a strain on the blood vessels. Over a period of time, this strain can cause damage to your blood vessels.

High blood pressure significantly increases your risk of a heart attack, kidney disease, stroke, and even vision problems.

High Levels of 'Bad' Cholesterol

With heightened awareness about the bad effects of high cholesterol levels, most people are today aware of the importance of controlling the levels of cholesterol.

Produced by the liver, cholesterol is a type of fat that is found in your blood. When your body has balanced levels of cholesterol, you remain in good health. However, if the levels of 'bad' cholesterol, also known as low-density lidoprotein (LDL) cholesterol goes too high, then it causes the buildup of fatty deposits of plaque in your blood vessels. This plaque may create blockages in your arteries and can also cause certain parts of the heart muscle to die off or become corroded.

It is important to maintain a healthy diet in order to control the levels of LDL in your body, thus lowering your risk of heart disease.

Nerve Damage

Another way in which type 2 diabetes can affect your heart health is by causing nerve damage. This is generally experienced as a discomfort or pain in your toes and feet, but it may also cause cardiac autonomic neuropathy (CAN). CAN is a condition that may cause damage to the nerve fibers present in your blood vessels and in the heart.

This nerve damage can further cause issues with the control of your heart rate as well as vascular dynamics. Nerve damage is also known to increase the risk of a heart attack and can even cause sudden death.

Conclusion

As discussed in the points above, type 2 diabetes can affect your heart in many ways and increase your risk for getting a heart attack or stroke. If you have type 2 diabetes then you must make it a point to manage your blood sugar levels. You should also reduce the various risk factors for heart disease by following a healthy lifestyle.

By adopting a healthy lifestyle, you will not only lower your risk of heart disease, but you will also keep yourself safe from the many complications of diabetes. Eating a healthy diet, following a plan for regular cardiovascular exercise, and maintaining a healthy weight are important factors that can help your heart.

Also make sure that you keep your blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels under control.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: September 19, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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