World Heart Day: How to keep diabetes under control for your heart’s sake

Did you know that having diabetes can increase your risk of heart diseases by twice? Well, prevent heart problems by knowing how to control your blood sugar levels.

Diabetes can be troublesome for your heart
Diabetes can be troublesome for your heart. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Dr Anil Bhoraskar Published on: 28 September 2022, 11:30 am IST
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This World Heart Day, let us remind you that a heart disease is a severe condition that can affect a person’s overall well-being and health. It can lead to critical complications and even affect your future health outcomes, putting you at risk of a repeat heart attack or stroke. However, if you have diabetes, the risk of a person getting stroke and heart disease is twice as high and the longer they live with diabetes, the more likely they will suffer from cardiac issues.

But there is good news! The risk of heart disease decreases significantly if a person can improve their heart health by changing their lifestyle habits. Since diabetes is a disease termed as the ‘king of complications’, it should remain controlled, especially if a person has other comorbidities like obesity, is a smoker or drinks a lot of alcohol.

Diabetes is a chronic health condition
Diabetes is a chronic health condition Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Side effects of diabetes on overall health

There is a high chance that a person will have diabetes for many years before it starts affecting significant organs in their body, including the heart, kidneys, eyes, and limbs.

It can cause microangiopathy, which is one of the significant complications of diabetes. In this condition, the small blood vessel changes affect the retinal and renal vasculature, which can then cause blindness and kidney failure.

Further, it can also cause macroangiopathy, a disease of the large blood vessels, where fat and blood clots build up and stick to the vessel walls, blocking blood flow and causing significant complications.

When a person has diabetes, their high blood sugar remains uncontrolled, and a parameter to assess the long-term control of blood sugar is called Haemoglobin A1C. If it is above 7, it is a warning signal and a sign to reach out to a specialist soon so the condition can be controlled.

Other parameters contributing to vascular complications are elevated LDL cholesterol, high triglycerides, and low HDL cholesterol.

These health concerns are further compounded if the person suffers from associated hypertension; systolic BP > 140 and diastolic BP > 90 can also contribute to vascular complications, leading to a long-term impact on the heart and kidneys.

Diabetes test
Don’t ignore your regular diabetes tests and quarterly checkups. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

While trying to prevent long-term complications, it is also essential to watch out for severe complications like hypoglycaemia (low sugar), keto-acidosis, and infections of the skin, urinary tract, lungs, and feet. All these can have severe complications and need to be treated systematically.

How to manage diabetes to avoid heart disease

Management of diabetes can sometimes be a challenging task.

The main goal would be to ensure that blood sugar remains controlled below a specific level of fasting sugar that is less than 99 mg/dL and post-meal sugar that is lower than 140 mg/dL.

Here are some critical pillars to ensure it does cause long-term negative impact.

1. Focus on a healthy diet

As a diabetic, you must be aware of the foods that you should eat and avoid. Having a diabetes-friendly diet, where you keep fried foods, sugar-laden delicacies, processed foods, et al, out of your reach.

2. Increase physical activities

Whether it is a 30-minute walk every day, yoga or a rigorous gym routine that you follow, a fitness regime goes a long way in helping you regulate your sugar levels. Make sure you exercise!

Importance of physical activity for diabetics
Importance of physical activity for diabetics. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

3. Proper use of drugs under the supervision of an expert

There is no one-size-fits-all strategy to keep diabetes under control. A diabetes reversal plan must be tailor-made by your medical expert, keeping in mind your other ailments or comorbodities in mind.

4. Manage your weight

Any diabetic person needs to manage their weight so that it does cause any additional strain on their heart.

5. Keep an eye on eye problems

Diabetes can increase risk of eye problems too. So, another critical factor that diabetic patients should worry is retinopathy, which can cause blindness, especially when it is not treated on time. To ensure this does not happen, a regular eye examination to see the internal portion of the eye called the retina by a specialized expert is highly recommended.

6. Urine examination

A urine examination must be conducted every six months to check for protein leakage and serum creatinine to ensure the kidneys function correctly without any future kidney disease.

Kidney function in diabetes
Keep your kidney health under check if you have diabetes. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

7. Keep a check on your feet

Finally, examining the feet is equally important to ensure that there are no chances of digital infections, non-healing ulcers, and callosities that can impact a person’s mobility.

The last word

It is important that every person should be aware of their diabetic status as it can help them manage their blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol. Also, as mentioned before making proper lifestyle changes can go a long way in reducing the risk associated with diabetes, so make sure exercise and a good diet become a regular part of every person’s lifestyle.

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About the Author
Dr Anil Bhoraskar Dr Anil Bhoraskar

Dr Anil Bhoraskar Senior Diabetologist, SL Raheja Hospital, Mahim, Mumbai Secretary, Diabetic Association of India (Scientific Section)

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