Q: What can I do to be sure that my diabetes doesn’t affect my heart health?
A: According to the American Diabetes Association, the number one cause of death in people living with diabetes is cardiovascular disease. High blood sugar, over time, can damage the blood vessels, as well as the nerves that control your heart. Those with diabetes are also more likely to have other conditions like high blood pressure, bad cholesterol (LDL), or high triglycerides that harden arteries, which all can raise the risk of cardiovascular disease.
If you experience any of these symptoms, seek immediate medical attention:
- Chest pain, tightness, pressure, or discomfort
- Shortness of breath
- Numbness, weakness, coldness, or pain in your arms or legs
- Pain in your throat, neck, jaw, upper abdomen, or back.
Some healthy habits that can help improve your overall health and prevent heart disease include:
- Make heart-healthy food and beverage choices. Many labels display a “heart-healthy symbol.”
- Maintain a healthy weight.Talk with your health provider about what a healthy weight is for you.
- Exercise regularly, including walking (try for 7 to 10 thousand steps per day.)
- If you are a smoker, there’s no better time than now to QUIT. Ask about help with your health provider’s smoking cessation resources.
- Easier said than done but it matters; find ways to help reduce stress including meditation, yoga, deep breathing, exercise, and consulting with a mental health professional for help.
- Limit or eliminate alcohol intake.