American Diabetes Month

American Diabetes Month

November is American Diabetes Month. This month, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, a branch of the National Institute of Health (NIH), would like to focus on the connection between diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The NIH has concluded that adults with diabetes have more potential to develop heart disease or stroke than those without the disease. So what exactly links these two conditions together, and how can the chances of cardiovascular disease be reduced?

What is DIABETES?

Diabetes is a condition in which the pancreas has trouble producing enough insulin for the body. Insulin is what the body needs to regulate blood sugar levels that by converting it into the glucose that the body uses for energy. A lack of insulin results in too much glucose in the blood and can cause other health problems. Diabetes breaks down into types one and two.
  • Type I diabetes. The pancreas cannot make insulin for someone with type I diabetes. There is no insulin because the body’s immune system works against the pancreas by destroying the cells that produce insulin. As a result, insulin has to be injected for someone with the disease to stay alive.
  • Type II diabetes. Someone with type II diabetes cannot make insulin, or insulin becomes resisted. It is the most common type of diabetes, and there are about 200,000 cases of the disease each year. Some examples of type II diabetes show no symptoms at all. In most cases, symptoms include increased thirst, which causes frequent urination, fatigue, blurred vision, hunger, and recurrent infections. There is no cure for either type of diabetes. Still, treatment is available that enables people to live mostly healthy lives.

Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease

Studies show that the chances of heart disease or stroke doubles for those with diabetes. The reason is because of glucose levels. Because the amount of glucose in the bloodstream becomes too high due to a lack of insulin, the blood can become oversaturated with it, and blood vessels can become damaged within the heart. There are several factors that contribute to how diabetes can cause cardiovascular disease.
  • Blood pressure. About one-quarter of people with type I diabetes have higher than normal blood pressure. With those who have type II diabetes, however, 80% have elevated blood pressure. Diabetes can increase blood pressure because the disease can harden and damage arteries, a process called atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis can raise blood pressure, which can lead to a heart attack.
  • Cholesterol. Diabetes is known to both lower good HDL cholesterol and raise bad LDL cholesterol. Cholesterol is a waxy substance that develops naturally in the body. While cholesterol is healthy in moderation, too much of it can block arteries and restrict blood flow throughout the heart. The reduced blood flow can result in a heart attack or stroke, a condition known as diabetic dyslipidemia.
  • Obesity. Diabetic, obese individuals have an increased risk for cardiovascular disease (CDC), as well as insulin resistance. Obesity forces the heart to work harder in harsh conditions, which contributes to the risk of high blood pressure and heart attack.
  • Smoking. Smoking is possibly the most damaging someone can do to the heart. Those with diabetes especially should refrain from smoking because these individuals already have a delicate cardiovascular system. Smoking dramatically increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Controlling the Effects of Diabetes

The American Heart Association (AHA) states that diabetes is one of seven of the most controllable risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease. The keyword is controllable. Diabetes does not have to always result in CVD. Many lifestyle changes can be made to keep the condition from having such a crippling impact on everyday life. For example, exercise is good for everyone. For people with diabetes, it is a great way to utilize the energy provided by glucose. It helps manage the levels of glucose in the blood and is excellent for keeping the heart healthy. Alcohol and smoking contribute to heart disease and are bad for cardiovascular health. Maintaining a heart-healthy diet is vital in maintaining heart health. Foods such as oats, whole grains, leafy greens, fatty fish, walnuts, and berries all contribute to a healthy heart.

This month, it is essential to recognize the link between diabetes and cardiovascular disease. By doing so, people with diabetes can become aware of the heart risks associated with the disease and can make the necessary adjustments for a healthy life.

The Emergency Center is here for you if you have a diabetes or diabetes related emergency! Never second guess when it could be a life-threatening condition. The Emergency Center provides up to 23 hours of Observation and offers 24/7 care with NO WAITING. Visit one of The Emergency Center’s convenient 24-hour locations in ArlingtonFort Worth, and San Antonio.