Diabetes: how diabetes affects the heart
The number of people with diabetes is increasing worldwide. Although many may not know it, so-called diabetes is also associated with a higher risk of heart disease.
According to a recent Mayo Clinic article, research has shown that people with type 2 diabetes are up to four times more likely to die from cardiovascular causes than the general population. But people with diabetes can take steps to reduce their future risk of heart disease.
Blood vessels can be damaged
Diabetes can damage blood vessels and make the heart muscle stiffer. This, in turn, can lead to problems such as water retention (a buildup of fluid in the body) and congestive heart failure (heart failure).
People with diabetes also have a higher risk of premature and accelerated coronary heart disease (CAD).
This means that compared to people without diabetes, the arterial walls have more fatty deposits and begin to harden earlier and without much warning, making treatment more difficult and leading to faster disease progression.
Therefore, people with diabetes are at an increased risk of recurrent heart attacks and scarring of the heart muscle, which increases the risk of sudden cardiac death.
And after a heart attack, the heart muscle doesn't heal as well as it does in people without diabetes. The risk of complications, such as heart failure, is then significantly higher.
Due to nerve damage caused by diabetes, patients may not experience chest pain or other types of chest discomfort, which may indicate that something is wrong with the heart.
Therefore, heart disease may go unrecognized until it is advanced and fewer treatment options are available.
Affected individuals may also experience "silent heart attacks" due to the lack of warning signs. They may not know that they are already at an advanced stage of the disease.
Improve quality of life and prolong life
Heart disease and diabetes have similarities that go beyond their potential complications. Both require taking medication. Medical treatment regimens can become complex, especially over the years with the use of multiple drugs.
Ongoing research also shows strong evidence that weight loss can reverse diabetes in some patients and that lowering blood pressure with medication can reduce the risk of developing diabetes and its complications.
Positive lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, losing weight, exercising more, eating healthier, and controlling blood pressure, can help improve diabetes control and heart health.
Studies have shown that by keeping these cardiovascular risk factors well controlled, people not only dramatically improve their quality of life, but more importantly, extend their lives by an average of eight years. (ad)
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This text corresponds to the specifications of the specialized medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been verified by health professionals.
Sources:Mayo Clinic: Mayo Clinic Q and A: How does diabetes affect the heart?, (accessed: 2022-06-27), Mayo Clinic
This article contains general advice only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment. It cannot substitute a visit to the doctor.