Posted on

What’s the connection?


Diabetes and Heart disease continued

To continue on with our discussion about diabetes and heart disease, we will start with the one basic question-what does diabetes have to do with heart disease?{{more}}

As it turns out, there is a lot of research in this area and new information is being discovered as time goes on. Twenty years ago, we knew there was some kind of link but did not know how strong a link, or particularly why. During the past 10 years we have discovered a great deal of information about these two diseases, to the extent that diabetes is actually thought of as equivalent to cardiac disease in terms of danger for the future. Yes that’s right-in some ways, even if, you do not know you have heart disease, diabetes itself, is thought of as just as dangerous as if we KNEW you had heart disease.

Diabetes does many things to various cells of the body, including those that wander around the blood stream. It causes changes in cholesterol-the types, the amounts and the variations. It causes changes in levels of inflammation in the body. One of the end results of all of these changes is that it becomes easier for plaques to form in the blood and stick to blood vessels. Think about your pipes-ever look inside some of them? You might find some sludge there, junky looking stuff that sticks to the inside and makes the passage of water more difficult. Sometimes the pipe gets stopped up entirely because of all this gunk inside. That is similar to plaque in your blood vessels. This plaque, made up of cells and cholesterol bits and pieces, accumulates quickly in people with diabetes. Most dangerously, it can build up in those blood vessels in the heart-and if those bloods vessels don’t let enough blood through to the muscles of the heart, they become damaged or die, leading to a heart attack.

By the way, this build up of plaque can also happen in other areas of the body and lead to strokes, or less blood flow in your legs etc. We’ll talk about those another time, but keep them in the back of your mind for now…

Remember that heart disease is the number one cause of death in people with diabetes-over 65% of deaths in people with diabetes are because of heart disease. As I have said before-this disease doesn’t play.

The basics of managing your health when you have diabetes in an effort to decrease chances of developing heart disease are as simple as your ABC’s:

A-your A1C-know your A1C, keep targeting 7%. Above 7% is when your chances of heart disease really start to increase.

B-blood pressure-your target is generally less than 130/80.If you have kidney disease, your target is a bit lower. You may need more than one blood pressure pill to get there. Don’t grumble, just take the pills.

C-cholesterol-all of it matters but most of all your LDL, the bad cholesterol. It should be under 100 at least, and as close to 70 as possible.

Talk to your doctor about these during your next appointment. Be sure you understand what they mean, and how to get on track if you are not already.

More to come in the next few weeks. Stay safe and healthy Vincies!

Anita Ramsetty, MD [email protected]
Medical Director Endocrine Care Group
Tel: 843-798-4227