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Health Journey Support | Diabetes and Your Risk of Heart Disease

People who have diabetes have a higher chance of developing many health problems, including heart disease. This brochure explains how heart disease can develop, how it affects your health, and what you can do to help reduce your risk of heart disease.

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This information is intended for US Consumers

Diabetes and Your Risk of Heart Disease

People who have diabetes have a higher chance of developing many health problems, including heart disease.

Diabetes Overview

If you have diabetes, it means your blood glucose, or blood sugar, is elevated. Over time, high blood sugar can damage the blood vessels of your heart and other organs, leading to other health problems. This means the longer you have diabetes, the greater your risk for heart disease.

Types of Heart Disease in Diabetes:

  • Coronary heart disease
  • Arrhythmias
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Heart failure
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Coronary heart disease is a build up of a cholesterol-filled substance, also called coronary plaque, inside the blood vessels of your heart.

The buildup of coronary plaque can increase your risk of having a heart attack.

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Cardiomyopathy refers to diseases of your heart muscle.

Cardiomyopathy may lead to abnormal heartbeats, called arrhythmias.

Cardiomyopathy may also lead to heart failure. This means your weakened heart can't pump enough blood to meet your body's needs.

Impact of Having Both Diseases

Having both diabetes and heart disease can affect you in many ways, including:

  • You will have a higher risk for other serious health problems, such as a heart attack, stroke, and even death

  • It may be harder for you to go about your daily activities

  • You may need help taking care of yourself

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  • You may also need to take more medications

  • Living with these conditions may cause depression

Heart Disease Risk Reduction

The good news is that there are things you can do to help lower your risk for heart disease.

You may need to make changes to your lifestyle.

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If you smoke, get the help you need to quit.

Both smoking and diabetes can narrow your blood vessels, which can increase your chance of developing heart disease or stroke.

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Maintain or get to a healthy weight.

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Follow a healthy eating plan.

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Get regular physical activity.

Work with your healthcare provider to determine the right amount of physical activity for you.

Make sure you work with your healthcare provider to control your blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure.

This includes taking all medications prescribed by your healthcare provider, including insulin and pills to help lower blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol.

Following the treatment plan your healthcare provider and you discussed will help you feel better and reduce your risk of getting heart disease.

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The information in this handout has been created and peer reviewed by graduate-level medical illustrators, followed by reviews from medical subject experts, either physicians or PhDs on the Nucleus Medical Review Board, to ensure medical accuracy and audience level appropriateness.

The handout is intended to supplement the information you receive from your healthcare provider and should never be considered personal medical advice. Always contact your healthcare provider with health questions and concerns.