Controlling diabetes and heart disease   

Controlling diabetes and heart disease

Having diabetes means you need to take control of your health. This is especially true if you have heart disease or if you've already had a heart attack. But there's good news. You can greatly reduce your health risks by making a few simple changes in your life.

When you have diabetes, your body may not produce enough insulin (a hormone that controls blood sugar). Or, your body does not respond to its own insulin. Either way, your blood sugar level can get too high. If blood sugar is high, your arteries may narrow. This limits blood flow to your body, including your heart. Heart disease may then occur.

If you have diabetes, you need to adopt habits that will help prevent or control heart disease. Work with your healthcare team. 


Your heart pumps blood to all parts of your body. Your blood picks up oxygen from the lungs and then travels back to the heart. From there, oxygen-rich blood is pumped to the rest of your body through a network of arteries. 

To do its job, your heart also needs oxygen rich blood. Your heart receives this blood from the coronary arteries. These blood vessels wrap around the heart. Like all arteries in your body, coronary arteries need to remain healthy and unblocked to carry enough blood. Controlling your blood sugar helps keep them healthy. 

High blood sugar may cause the walls of the arteries to become rough. This allows fatty substances to build up in the walls of an artery. More plaque may then form in these walls. Controlling your blood sugar can help slow or prevent this damage. 


Many things can put you at risk for heart disease or a heart attack. Some factors, such as your age or a family history of heart disease, can't be changed. But there are other risks you can control. 

Lower bad cholesterol. Cholesterol is a fat-like substance in the blood. There are two kinds of cholesterol: LDL ("bad") and HDL ("good"). Lowering bad cholesterol decreases your risk for heart

disease. HDL cholesterol helps clear LDL cholesterol from the blood and arteries. Your healthcare team will test your cholesterol levels. You will then learn what levels are healthy for you. 

Lower blood pressure. High blood pressure causes blood to press too hard against artery walls. This wears down the lining of the walls. And plaque may build up in them. By controlling your blood pressure, you can limit your chances of plaque buildup and decrease your risk of a heart attack. 

Control blood sugar. By controlling your blood sugar, you can help lower LDL cholesterol and other fatty substances. Also, plaque may be less likely to build up in the walls of the arteries.

Lose excess weight. Excess weight makes it harder for your body to use insulin. It also makes your heart work harder. Losing even a few pounds may help you control your blood sugar. It can also reduce your risk for heart disease or a heart attack. 

Quit smoking. Smoking damages the lining of your arteries. This allows plaque to build up in the artery walls and narrow the arteries. This can raise blood pressure and reduce blood flow to the heart. If you smoke, quitting could save your life. 


The only way to know how well you're reducing your heart health risks is to monitor them. This means having checkups and lab tests as often as needed and making some lifestyle changes.

To track your heart health, you need to visit your healthcare team regularly. Your blood pressure and weight will be checked. And you may have lab tests. Two standard blood tests measure blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Tests to check your kidneys may also be done. Try not to miss your visits. And be sure to discuss each of your test results with your healthcare team.

Blood sugar lab tests

A hemoglobin Ale blood test measures your average blood sugar levels over a 2- to 3-month period. This shows how well your diabetes is being controlled. The test gives results over an extended period, as opposed to daily blood sugar readings. It also helps predict risk for heart disease and other problems. You may have this test every 3 to 6 months.

Testing total cholesterol

A blood test for total cholesterol measures LDL and HDL cholesterol as well as triglycerides. Your doctor may order this test about once a year.

If your LDL levels or triglycerides are too high, your doctor may prescribe medication to help lower them. You'll also need to make changes in your diet. 


Living with diabetes can be stressful. Stress may make your blood sugar and blood pressure go up. And this can increase your risk for heart disease. Stress may also make it less likely for you to eat right and exercise.

You can't wish stress away. But you can find ways to manage it.

You don't have to deal with diabetes alone. Support from others can help you take better care of yourself. Ask your family and friends to: 

  • Listen to your feelings. This will help you work through fear or anger.

  • Eat the same meals you eat. Your meal plan will be healthy for family and friends, too.

  • Exercise with you. Exercise is good for everyone. It strengthens the heart and helps relieve stress.

  • Go with you to visits with your healthcare team. This will help your loved ones learn what you need to do.


Below are some steps you can take to control your blood sugar and reduce your risks for heart disease or a heart attack.

Eating right

·    1. I will eat at least five servings of fresh fruits and fresh or plain frozen vegetables a day.

·    2. I will read nutrition fact labels to choose products that have the least fat, cholesterol and salt.

·    3. I will measure serving sizes and eat no more than the daily servings noted in my meal plan.

Getting brisk exercise

·    1. I will walk for at least 10 minutes during my lunch hour. Or, I will walk around the mall before I shop.

·    2. I will ride an exercise bike while watching TV.

·    3. I will sign up for an aerobics or dance class.

Caring for myself

·    1. I will check my blood sugar as often as directed by my healthcare team.

·    2. I will take all my medications each day, even if I feel fine that day.

·    3. I will keep all my visits with my healthcare team.

·    4. I will take time to relax each day.


Happy reading,

To subscribe this newsletter, please enter your

 name and email below:

Name: Email:

Copyright © 2011-2018 All Rights Reserved.
All trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

Disclaimer | Privacy Policy