How Diabetes Increases Your Risk for A Heart Attack and What You Can Do About It

Many people know the risk factors for a heart attack include everything from high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol levels to smoking, being overweight, and being under too much stress. What some may not realize, however, is that simply having diabetes can also increase your chances of suffering a heart attack or stroke.

In fact, adults who have diabetes face two to four times the risk of dying from heart disease than people without it. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to lessen these odds, including finding the right doctor to manage your care.

Here at Prime Heart and Vascular, Dr. Rishin Shah combines preventive measures with state-of-the-art medical care to provide the best possible treatment for our patients. In addition to utilizing his skills as a renowned cardiac and vascular specialist, he and his team provide a safe, welcoming, and compassionate environment. When you come in for a visit, Dr. Shah thoroughly explains all conditions, procedures, and treatment options as well as how one health concern can affect others -- as in the case of diabetes and heart health.

Why does diabetes increase the risk of heart attack and stroke?

The high blood sugar levels that go along with diabetes can harm blood vessels and nerves throughout the body -- including those around the heart. Not surprisingly, the longer a person has had diabetes, the greater their chances of developing heart disease and having a heart attack or stroke. Overall, adults with diabetes have almost double the risk of dying from a heart attack or stroke as people who don’t have diabetes.

The insulin resistance found in people with diabetes can lead to a number of health issues, including high blood pressure, obesity, and abnormal cholesterol and triglyceride levels. These are all contributors to heart disease regardless of an individual's diabetes status, but when diabetes is in the picture, the risk climbs even higher.

If you have diabetes, here’s what you can do to stay healthy

Having diabetes doesn’t mean that developing heart disease is inevitable. There are many controllable risk factors, so making a few lifestyle changes can go a long way toward preventing heart issues and keeping you healthy over the long term. Since November is National Diabetes Month, Dr. Shah wants to share these suggestions with you.

  1. Keep your blood sugar levels under control

Check your blood sugar often, and get a hemoglobin A1C test periodically to assess your long-term blood sugar control. Unlike a regular blood glucose check, the A1C test shows your average blood sugar level over the previous three months. You can work with Dr. Shah to determine what number is best for you and how to maintain it.

  1. Monitor your blood pressure and cholesterol

Track your blood pressure and know your cholesterol and triglyceride levels as well. If these are not in the target range, our medical team can make suggestions on possible courses of action to get them where they need to be to prevent damage to your blood vessels.

  1. If you smoke, quit.

Smoking causes narrowing of the blood vessels, so quitting is crucial to improving blood circulation and reducing your heart disease risk.

  1. Maintain a healthy weight.

Eating a healthy diet and getting enough exercise can help with weight management or weight loss, if necessary. Because extra pounds can contribute to cardiovascular disease, insulin sensitivity, and high blood pressure, maintaining a proper weight is an important part of the quest to stay healthy.

Managing diabetes and its accompanying risk factors may seem overwhelming, but you don't have to do it alone. To make an appointment with Dr. Shah, call one of our offices in Allen, Frisco, or Plano, Texas, or click to book it online.