Having diabetes raises your risk for developing other dangerous conditions, especially heart disease and stroke. Diabetes is a serious condition that happens when your body can’t make enough of a hormone called insulin or can’t properly use the insulin it has. Insulin helps your body digest sugars that come from what you eat and drink. Without enough insulin, sugar builds up in your blood. Over time, that sugar buildup damages your nerves, blood vessels, heart, and kidneys.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that more than 29 million Americans have diabetes, or about 1 of every 11 people. About 8 million of them don’t know they have diabetes. Another 86 million—more than 1 in 3 Americans older than 20 years—have prediabetes, a condition in which a person’s blood sugar is high, but not yet high enough to trigger diabetes. Diabetes can affect many other organs and so it is very important that you manage your glucose levels properly to make sure you are protecting your heart.
Type 2 Diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. In type 2 diabetes your body does not use insulin properly. Some patients can manage their blood sugar through diet and exercise but there are some people who need medications to help. Your doctor can tell you what treatment plan is best for you.

A1C – A1C is the index test to determine the amount of glucose (sugar) in your blood. This is a simple blood test that can give your doctor information on how well the treatment is working over time. There is a range of A1C, and that number can tell your doctor a lot about how to manage your diabetes.

5.7 or below is in normal range. If your A1C is between 5.8 and 6.5 you are considered pre-diabetes and it is time for you to begin to focus on healthy lifestyle changes to reduce your A1C. If your level is above 6.5 you are considered to have Type 2 diabetes.

If you are diagnosed with pre-diabetes or diabetes, you should carefully follow the risk reduction section of the HeartGuide. All of the important things that can help reduce your risk of heart disease can also reduce your risk of diabetes. The longer your diabetes is not controlled, the more risk there is to your heart.

Research shows that people with type 2 diabetes are twice as likely to develop heart failure. And those individuals are more likely to be hospitalized and have worse long-term outcomes. Managing your diabetes and glucose levels is a very important part of taking care of your heart. Heart Failure is a disease that will continue to get worse over time, and there is no cure. You can find out more about heart failure in the heart failure section of this guide.

Type 2 diabetes can also damage your kidneys. This is another example of how the body works together and why managing your blood sugar levels are so important. If kidney damage occurs, that can affect your blood pressure and that can affect your heart.

Take care of your blood sugar level now, so you can keep your heart healthy. Plan and speak with your doctor about how to best manage your diabetes.

Other Resources

Know Diabetes by Heart – The Mended Hearts, Inc. is a proud partner of The Know Diabetes by Heart Initiative.

Diabetes & Heart Disease Discussion Guide– This discussion guide is printable and contains questions to ask our doctor and more important information.

American Diabetes Association