By University of Iowa Health Care
Often when we learn we have a particular disease, like diabetes, we focus so much on it that we ignore how medical conditions are often inter-connected. Take your heart for example. Diabetes is now considered the strongest risk you can have for developing heart disease. Heart disease continues to be the leading cause of early death in people with diabetes. You can reduce the risk of developing heart disease by working closely with your doctor on a heart healthy plan.
Stick to the plan
The most important factor is not smoking. It is critical to your wellbeing to not damage your heart and blood vessels with cigarette smoke. Let your doctor know that you are ready to quit and he or she will assist you. High blood pressure is another major risk for heart disease and often goes hand in hand with diabetes. As you and your doctor plan for your diabetes care, be sure you are also addressing any tendency you may have for high blood pressure. One of the key recommendations for all adults with diabetes is treatment with cholesterol lowering medications known as statins. Taking a cholesterol medicine is important for all diabetics, even if there is not yet any sign of heart disease. Just as diet and exercise are important for your diabetes, cholesterol medicine is equally important.
Weight control is more than a good idea
As part of your diabetes care, your doctor will be monitoring your weight, getting you to increase your physical activity and manage your carbohydrate intake. Being overweight puts added stress on your heart and is associated with insulin resistance. Your doctor’s advice to exercise and control your weight is not just a good idea, it’s effective medicine that can keep you healthy. Stick to your diet and exercise plan and let your doctor know how it’s going—good and bad. Not everyone experiences warning signs for diabetes. Don’t wait for the signs to become obvious. Make an appointment and bring along a checklist of all your health concerns, asking your doctor where you stand on diabetes as well as heart health.
A final note
The good news for both diabetes and heart disease is that catching problems early goes a long way to prevent complications and to continue leading an active life.