Diabetes and Heart Disease
Heart disease is more likely to occur in people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes Heart disease is a complication that may affect people with diabetes if their condition is not managed well for a prolonged period of time.
Heart disease is common in people with diabetes. Data from the National Heart Association from 2012 shows 65% of people with diabetes will die from some sort of heart disease or stroke. In general, the risk of heart disease death and stroke are twice as high in people with diabetes.
While all people with diabetes have an increased chance of developing heart disease, the condition is more common in those with type 2 diabetes. In fact, heart disease is the number one cause of death among people with type 2 diabetes.
People with diabetes are more vulnerable to heart disease than those people who did not have diabetes. The study showed that multiple health factors including diabetes could increase the possibility of developing heart disease. Apart from diabetes, other health problems associated with heart disease includes high blood pressure, smoking, high cholesterol levels, and a family history of early heart disease.
Heart disease experts recommend that all people with diabetes have their heart disease risk factors treated as aggressively as people who have already had heart attacks.
How are heart disease and diabetes linked? People suffering from type 1 and type 2 diabetes are more likely to be at risk from heart attacks, strokes and high blood pressure.
Vascular problems, such as poor circulation to the legs and feet, are also more likely to affect diabetes patients.
Like diabetes itself, the symptoms of cardiovascular disease may go undetected for years.
People affected with heart disease:
Many people think that heart disease only affects the middle-aged and elderly. However, serious cardiovascular disease may develop in diabetics before the age of 30.
Both type 1 and type 2 diabetics are at greater risk of developing heart disease.
Causes of Heart Disease in People With Diabetes
The most common cause of heart disease in a person with diabetes is hardening of the coronary arteries or atherosclerosis, which is a buildup of cholesterol in the blood vessels that supply oxygen and nutrition to the heart.
This buildup of cholesterol usually begins before the increase in blood sugars that occurs in type 2 diabetes. In other words, heart disease almost always has established itself prior to the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.
When the cholesterol plaques can break apart or rupture, the body tries to repair the plaque rupture by sending platelets to seal it up. Because the artery is small, the platelets could block the flow of blood, not allowing for oxygen delivery and a heart attack develops. The same process can happen in all of the arteries in the body, resulting in lack of blood to the brain, causing a stroke or lack of blood to the feet, hands, or arms causing peripheral vascular disease.
Not only are people with diabetes at higher risk for heart disease, they're also at higher risk for heart failure, a serious medical condition in which the heart is unable to pump blood adequately. This can lead to fluid build-up in the lungs that causes difficulty breathing, or fluid retention in other parts of the body (especially the legs) that causes swelling.
Hyperglycemia, which characterises diabetes, in combination with free fatty acids in the blood can change the makeup of blood vessels, and this can lead to cardiovascular disease.
The lining of the blood vessels may become thicker, and this in turn can impair blood flow.
Symptoms of heart disease
The following are common symptoms of heart disease, although this may vary from individual to individual:
- Pain in the chest
- Short of breath
- Irregular heartbeat
- Swelling of ankles
- Feeling faint.
- Feeling dizzy.
- Excessive and unexplained sweating.
- Pain in the shoulders, jaw, and left arm.
Peripheral vascular disease has the following symptoms:
- Cramping in your legs while walking (intermittent claudication) or hips or buttocks pain
- Cold feet.
- Decreased or absent pulses in the feet or legs.
- Loss of fat under the skin of the lower parts of the legs.
- Loss of hair on the lower parts of the legs.