People suffering from type 2 diabetes are twice as likely to suffer from strokes or heart attacks, also known as cardiovascular disease (CVD), and more likely to die from these events. 1, 2
Not only do diabetes and CVD share associated risk factors, but the development of insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes, can result in chronic hyperglycaemia (high blood sugar). This further prompts an inflammatory response that can damage cardiovascular cells, leading to plaque formation and structural abnormalities in the heart. 3
What are the Common Diabetic Risk Factors for CVD
- Being obese
- Obesity can induce changes in metabolism and immune processes. It can also lead to fatty deposits building up in your arteries, causing arteries to harden (atherosclerosis), blood pressure to rise (hypertension) and excess fat to circulate in your blood (hyperlipidaemia). 4
- Having high blood sugar levels
- High blood sugar levels (hyperglycaemia) can impair heart function by harming blood vessels and the nerves controlling your heart. 5, 6
- Having an inactive lifestyle
- Being physically inactive increases your risk of a variety of cardiovascular diseases, such as heart failure and coronary heart disease. 7
- Having high blood pressure
- High blood pressure can be linked to stress, but you are more likely to suffer from high blood pressure if you have type 2 diabetes. High blood pressure can damage your arteries, which may lead to blockages or burst or narrowed arteries. Consequently, high blood pressure can lead to a range of cardiovascular disease, such as stroke, peripheral artery disease and heart failure. 8
- Having high cholesterol levels
- You are more likely to suffer from high levels of certain types of cholesterol (LDL) that can cause plaques to form in the arteries. These plaques can damage the arteries and can restrict blood flow, leading to different forms of cardiovascular disease, such as stroke and heart failure. 8
But, all is not lost; tackling your diabetes means you are also addressing your risk of CVD.
You can take some simple first steps to help to improve your diabetes and reduce your risk of heart disease:
- Stick to a healthy diabetic diet
- Keep a healthy weight — if you are overweight, losing weight can also help lower blood glucose levels
- Live a more active lifestyle — being active can also make cells more sensitive to insulin (the hormone that reduces blood glucose levels), helping to control blood glucose levels
- Reduce your stress levels 6,9
By implementing these changes into your life, you can help to lower your blood sugar levels, reduce medications, and lower your risk of CVD related complications.
If you’re worried that you might be at risk or are suffering from type 2 diabetes symptoms and are looking for help to manage your condition, we want to support you to self-manage your diabetes for long-term better health.
Find out more about the help and programmes available from Diabetes Lifestyle Doctors by clicking here.
- Emerging Risk Factors Collaboration, Sarwar N, Gao P, Seshasai SR, Gobin R, Kaptoge S, Di Angelantonio E, Ingelsson E, Lawlor DA, Selvin E, Stampfer M, Stehouwer CD, Lewington S, Pennells L, Thompson A, Sattar N, White IR, Ray KK, Danesh J. Diabetes mellitus, fasting blood glucose concentration, and risk of vascular disease: a collaborative meta-analysis of 102 prospective studies. Lancet. 2010 Jun 26;375(9733):2215-22. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(10)60484-9. Erratum in: Lancet. 2010 Sep 18;376(9745):958.
- Guidelines in Practice. Tailor treatment of type 2 diabetes to improve cardiovascular outcomes. Available at: https://www.guidelinesinpractice.co.uk/diabetes/tailor-treatment-of-type-2-diabetes-to-improve-cardiovascular-outcomes/456049.article Accessed: 20th April 2022
- Witteles RM, Tang WH, Jamali AH, Chu JW, Reaven GM, Fowler MB. Insulin resistance in idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy: a possible etiologic link. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2004 Jul 7;44(1):78-81
- Cercato C, Fonseca FA. Cardiovascular risk and obesity. Diabetol Metab Syndr. 2019 Aug 28;11:74.
- Süfke, S., Djonlagić, H., & Kibbel, T. (2010). Beeinträchtigung des kardialen autonomen Nervensystems und Arrhythmie-Inzidenz bei schwerer Hyperglykämie. Medizinische Klinik, 105(12), 858–870.
- Centres for Disease Control. Diabetes and Heart. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/library/features/diabetes-and-heart.html Accessed: 20th April 2022
- di Raimondo, D., Musiari, G., Rizzo, G., Tuttolomondo, A., & Pinto, A. (2020). Effects of physical inactivity in cardiovascular biomarkers. Journal of Laboratory and Precision Medicine, 5.
- Heart.org. Health threats from high blood pressure. Available at: https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/health-threats-from-high-blood-pressure Accessed: 20th April 2022
- National institute of diabetes and digestive and kidney diseases. Diabetes Heart Disease and Stroke. Available at: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/preventing-problems/heart-disease-stroke. Accessed: 20th April 2022