Diabetics need to pay careful attention in order to prevent heart disease and stroke from diabetes. Especially since diabetics are twice as likely to develop heart disease and to have a stroke.
Often, diabetics develop these complications at earlier ages than people without diabetes. As such, it is important for all diabetics to be aware of the complications and preventative measures that they should take in order to delay or avoid the development of heart disease and stroke.
The Connection Between Diabetes & Heart Disease?
Diabetes and heart disease are closely linked because of the high blood glucose levels [link to: blood glucose levels] that are present in a person with diabetes. High blood glucose levels lead to deposits of fatty materials inside of the walls of the blood vessels.
As the deposits develop and grow, blood flow becomes restricted, often leading to hypertension [link to: hypertension] and stress. Eventually, blood vessels tend to become hardened and clogged, restricting and even stopping blood flow.
Symptoms of a Heart Attack
A heart attack occurs when the blood vessels are blocked. If you are a man experiencing a heart attack, you may feel:
- Angina: Chest pain or discomfort in the center of the chest; also described as a heaviness, tightness, pressure, aching, burning, numbness, fullness or squeezing feeling that lasts for more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back. It is sometimes mistakenly thought to be indigestion or heartburn.
- Pain or discomfort in other areas of the upper body including the arms, left shoulder, back, neck, jaw, or stomach
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Sweating or â€œcold sweatâ€
- Fullness, indigestion, or choking feeling (may feel like â€œheartburnâ€)
- Nausea or vomiting
- Light-headedness, dizziness, extreme weakness or anxiety
- Rapid or irregular heart beats
Women’s Heart Attack Symptoms Differ
Women often have different symptoms of a heart attack than men and may report symptoms before having a heart attack, although the symptoms are not typical â€œheartâ€ symptoms. Womenâ€™s symptoms may include:
- Upper back or shoulder pain
- Jaw pain or pain spreading to the jaw
- Pressure or pain in the center of the chest
- Pain that spreads to the arm
- Unusual fatigue for several days
In a study of 515 women who had a heart attack, the most frequently reported symptoms were unusual fatigue, sleep disturbances, shortness of breath, indigestion and anxiety. The majority of women (78%) reported at least one symptom for more than one month before their heart attack. Only 30% reported chest discomfort, which was described as an aching, tightness, pressure, sharpness, burning, fullness or tingling.
- Symptoms of a Stroke
- Unexplained and sudden weakness or numbness in the face, arm or leg on only one side of the body
- Confusion, difficulty speaking or understanding
- Dizziness, loss of balance or trouble walking
- Trouble seeing, including double vision
- Sudden and severe headache
- Increased Risks for developing heart disease and strokes
People with diabetes have an increased risk of developing heart disease and related complications. Additional risk factors include:
- Obesity, especially around the waist. Abdominal fat increases the production of bad cholesterol. Men should have waists smaller than 40 inches and women should stay under 35 inches. Calculate your Body Mass Index (BMI).
- High bad (LDL) cholesterol levels leads to a build-up of fatty deposits in the blood. The deposits will harden and narrow the arteries, possibly even blocking blood flow altogether.
- Having increased levels of Triglyceride fat in the blood.
- Having low levels of HDL, or good cholesterol. Good cholesterol removes fatty deposits from the blood vessels and takes them to the liver for removal.
- High blood pressure, or hypertension. This strains the heart, damages the blood vessels, and increases your risk of developing a heart attack, stroke, eye problems and kidney problems.
- Smoking narrows the blood vessels and increases the risk of developing other complications, such as eye problems. Smoking may also damage blood vessels in the legs and increases the risk of amputation.
If you experience a heart problem, such as a heart attack or stroke, you should consult your physician right away. If you are showing signs of having a heart attack or stroke, you go directly to an emergency room or dial 911.
Treating heart and blood conditions often involves modifying the diet to make it healthier, increasing the level of physical activity and taking proper medications. Here are some other tips:
- Consume at least 14 grams of fiber per 1000 calories.
- Reduce saturated fat.
- Exercise for at least 30 minute each day.
- Maintain a healthy body weight.
- Quit smoking.