Heart disease is any disorder that makes the heart function differently than it should. Heart disease is one of the most common complications of diabetes. If the vessels leading to the heart become clogged, this can lead to a heart attack. If vessels leading to the legs become clogged, peripheral vascular disease (PVD) can result.
Why Heart Disease Is Common in People With Diabetes
People with diabetes tend to have more “bad” (LDL) cholesterol and less “good” (HDL) cholesterol. HDL cholesterol helps move bad cholesterol from the bloodstream to the liver. Over time, excess LDL cholesterol in the bloodstream is deposited inside blood vessels, where it sticks to the walls of the vessels and interferes with blood flow.
In addition to cholesterol levels, diabetes itself can bring about significant cardiac health risk, due in part to changes in the blood vessels produced by hyperglycemia, changes in blood coagulation properties, and changes in the plaques that form in the blood vessels of diabetics.
How to minimise your risk for heart disease
- Eating a healthy diet (rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lower-fat proteins and monounsaturated fats)
- Limit sodium (salt) intake to less than 2,400mg/day
- Achieving an optimal weight (calorie control)
- Daily exercise routine (30-40mins 5 x week brisk walk or equivalent)
- Stop smoking
- Keeping blood sugar levels to target
- Controlling blood pressure (< 130/80 for people with hypertension & diabetes)
- Cholesterol control (LDL < 2.6mml/l, HDL >1.2mmol/l, triglycerides <4.5mmol/l ,)
What are the symptoms of heart disease
- Chest pain (sometimes not felt “silent” in persons with diabetes due to neurological damage)
- Discomfort or pain in the back, arms, neck or stomach
- Shortness of breath
- Sweating or light-headedness
- Nausea or indigestion
- Extreme weakness or anxiety
If you have experienced any of these symptoms, contact your healthcare provider immediately.
What are the symptoms of vessel disease
- Painful cramps in the thigh, calves or hips during such exercise as walking or stair climbing
- Persistent leg pain that continues even after exercise is stopped
- Wounds on feet that are slow to heal or don’t heal
- A much lower temperature in the affected foot or leg compared to rest of body
Because heart disease can be without symptoms until something major occurs, it’s essential to minimise the risk factors.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms or feel you may be at risk to due other concominant illnesses or family history, please make a dedicated appointment to address these issues with your doctor. Various different modalities of therapy may be suggested depending upon your individual risk factors and symptoms.