How Many Ways Does Diabetes Impact Your Heart Health?
Everyone’s heard that having diabetes puts you at risk for several medical conditions. The following article discusses them in just enough detail to help you understand what’s involved and how it jeopardizes your health.
Diabetic Heart Disease Risk
Advances in medical technology have drastically improved your odds of surviving a myocardial infarction or heart attack. If you have a heart attack out in the community, and paramedics get you to the hospital in time you have over an 80% chance of surviving. But, people with diabetes are twice as likely to have a heart attack as someone without diabetes. What’s worse, people with diabetes have an increased risk of dying from a heart attack. Researchers haven’t come to a consensus on reasons for the increased risks, but one of theories is that diabetes damages the lining of your veins causing atherosclerosis or hardening. As a result of the hardening of the arteries, people with diabetes also have an increased risk for hypertension or high blood pressure.
Diabetic Hypertension Risk
Hypertension is one of the main culprits of heart attacks. When stressors of life never seem to let up, this is called chronic stress. One of the effects of chronic stress is that your blood pressure is always high. A lot people swear that they can tell when their blood pressure is elevated, but the reality is, you can’t feel it. That’s why they call hypertension the “quiet killer.” Over time hypertension damages your blood vessels. In fact, half of patients with diabetes have hypertension.
Diabetic Peripheral Artery Disease Risk
Diabetes alters many of the body systems. It does significant damage to the arteries. The main artery problem is peripheral artery disease, or PAD, afflicts around 12 million Americans, though only about half ever experience any symptoms. The primary symptom reported is claudication. People describe it as cramping in their calves during exercise. Most people don’t think much of it and don’t report it to their doctors.
The underlying problem is that over time, decreased blood flow to the lower limbs may result in permanent damage including diabetic ulcers, gangrene, and ultimately amputated limbs. Again, people with diabetes are two to three times more likely to develop PAD. As a diabetes patient, your chances are about one in 3 age 50.
How does diabetes affect your Cholesterol?
Usually, there’s a healthy balance between HDL cholesterol or high-density lipoprotein and LDL cholesterol or low-density lipoprotein. Your creates HDL, and one of it’s most useful functions is that it helps our body eliminate fat from our bloodstream. When your LDL is too high, it plugs your arteries, which leads to heart attacks. As you might have guessed, people with diabetes often have too much LDL or lethal cholesterol and not enough HDL or healthy cholesterol.
In addition to cholesterol, there are unhealthy fats or triglycerides. Overeating red meat increases your triglyceride levels. Of course, high levels of triglycerides also connected to heart disease. They add to the plaque mixture which clog your arteries and causes heart attacks. And you guessed it, people with diabetes have elevated triglyceride levels.
Does having diabetes increase my chances of having a stroke?
The mechanics of having a stroke are like those of having a heart attack. Having a heart attack is the result of blocked arteries in your heart. Having a stroke results from blocked arteries leading to or in your brain. In either case, these are dangerous conditions. Diabetics have an increased risk of having heart disease, hypertension, and elevated triglycerides. This does put them at higher risk of having a cardiovascular accident (CVA), commonly known as stroke. Hemorrhagic strokes happen when blood vessels rupture in the brain. Hemorrhagic strokes account for about 15 to 20% of strokes, and they don’t seem to get associated with diabetes.
Even though your brain makes up just around 2% of your body mass, it uses about 20% of the oxygen in your blood stream. So, when a stroke blocks the arteries in your brain for just a few minutes; brain cells start dying, and the damaged area of the brain is permanent. Again, there’s bad news for people with diabetes. They’re more likely not to survive a major stroke. If they do survive, they’re more likely to have serious residual effects, like being paralyzed on one side of their body.
Can diabetes increase my risk of developing heart failure?
The short answer is yes, at least according to the experts. Heart failure, sometimes called congestive heart failure gradually worsens over time. They call it congestive because the blood becomes backed up in the veins. This results from diabetes damaging the veins so they can’t pump effectively.
People usually notice:
Difficulty breathing when they lie flat
Swelling in the legs
Swelling in the ankles and feet