Diabetes: Part V – Type 2 And Your Heart

If you have Type 2 Diabetes you know that you are more at risk for heart disease than people without Type 2. You know you should follow a healthy, low-fat diet, exercise regularly, stay away from tobacco and keep your blood sugar under control.


But just why does Type 2 diabetes put you at greater risk for heart disease?


There are multiple reasons and they all work to reinforce each other in a cycle that is self-perpetuating. However, the two main reasons are atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and hypertension (high blood pressure).


Atherosclerosis is sometimes called hardening of the arteries because, in atherosclerosis, the internal walls of the arteries become lined with fat and are not only narrower than normal but also less elastic. People with diabetes, both type 1 and type 2, have an increased tendency to have high cholesterol (fat in the blood) that is deposited in the walls of the arteries. This increased tendency is related to high blood sugar levels that persist over time.


What can you do to prevent or minimize atherosclerosis? Keep your blood sugar in good control AND eat a low-fat diet. Follow your healthcare provider’s advice about medication. Exercise will help to control your blood sugar.


Hypertension refers to pressure in your arteries that is too high. It’s normal to have pressure in your arteries. That’s one of the things that keeps blood flowing in your body. However, when the pressure is higher than normal, it can put a strain on your heart and damage your blood vessels. Essential hypertension is high blood pressure that occurs for an unknown reason. Secondary hypertension is caused by problems in one of the organs of the body, for example, the kidneys. No one knows why, but hypertension is often a part of the problems related to diabetes. It’s part of the metabolic syndrome (more about that in a later blog).


What can you do to prevent or minimize hypertension? Keep your weight at a normal level or lose weight if you have to. Do not smoke (YES, that again). If your healthcare provider tells you that you have high blood pressure and prescribes medication, TAKE IT as prescribed. Medication for hypertension IS NOT a cure. It is a control.


Diabetes is about your whole body and your whole life. To find out more access LINK.


Mary Lou Bernardo, PhD, MSN


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