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What is the Link Between Diabetes and Heart Disease?

Jun 09, 2023

According to research, there is a clear correlation between diabetes and heart disease. Obesity, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol are all risk factors for both disorders.

Diabetes has also been linked to certain molecular mechanisms that enhance the risk of heart disease, based on research. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the major causes of death in diabetics are heart disease and stroke.

What Is Heart Disease?

Heart disease is a term used to describe a collection of illnesses that affect the heart. In the United States, it is the leading cause of death. According to the (CDC), it is responsible for around one out of every four deaths.

Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the most common of all heart diseases. It develops over time as the arteries supplying blood to the heart become clogged with plaque composed of cholesterol and other chemicals.

Atherosclerosis lowers blood circulation to the heart, depriving it of oxygen and nutrients. This weakens the heart muscle over time, increasing the risk of heart failure and other cardiac problems. There are certain steps you can take to reduce the risk of heart disease.

What Is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease that develops when your blood glucose, often known as blood sugar, is abnormally high. This is a medical condition that affects how your body converts food into energy. Blood glucose is your primary source of energy and is obtained from the foods you consume.

Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, facilitates the transport of glucose from food into your cells to be used as energy. Sometimes your body does not produce enough or any insulin. It can also be the case that your body may not use insulin effectively. Glucose thus remains in your circulation rather than reaching your cells. Diabetes is classified into three types: type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes (diabetes while one is pregnant).

Although there is no cure for diabetes, you can take several efforts to manage it and live a healthy life.

Causes of Heart Disease in People with Diabetes

Hardening of the coronary arteries, also known as atherosclerosis, is the most common cause of heart disease in diabetics. This is a buildup of cholesterol in the blood vessels that deliver oxygen and nutrition to the heart.

When cholesterol plaques rupture, the body attempts to repair the plaque breach by sending platelets to shut it up. Because the artery is minuscule, platelets may obstruct blood flow, preventing oxygen delivery and resulting in a heart attack. A similar process can occur in all arteries throughout the body, resulting in a shortage of blood to the brain, a stroke, or a lack of circulation resulting in peripheral vascular disease.

Common Risk Factors

Diabetes and heart disease have multiple risk factors in common, therefore their co-occurrence is all too prevalent. Some of the most common risk factors are:

  1. Obesity: Excess body weight, particularly abdominal obesity, raises the risk of both diabetes and heart disease. The adipose tissue produces inflammatory chemicals, which can impede insulin function and contribute to the formation of atherosclerosis, a significant cause of heart disease.
  2. Physical inactivity: Sedentary lifestyles and a lack of regular exercise have been linked to an increased risk of acquiring diabetes and heart disease. Regular physical activity helps in weight control, insulin sensitivity, and cardiovascular health.
  3. Hypertension: Hypertension is a major risk factor for diabetes and heart disease. Elevated blood pressure destroys blood vessels, puts more strain on the heart, and increases the risk of cardiovascular problems.
  4. Unhealthy diet: A diet heavy in saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, salt, and refined carbohydrates contributes to the development of these illnesses as food and heart are closely connected
  5. Smoking: Cigarette smoking is a harmful habit that is closely linked to an elevated risk of heart disease and diabetes. It causes blood vessel damage, inflammation, and worsens insulin resistance.

Diabetes and Heart Disease - The Connection

Diabetes and heart disease are two common chronic diseases that have reached worrying levels in recent years. More than 34 million Americans have diabetes, and nearly 655,000 Americans die from heart disease each year, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The simultaneous presence of these two diseases is not by chance, since significant study has established a close correlation between diabetes and heart disease.

Adults with diabetes are two to four times as likely than individuals without diabetes to die from cardiac disease. Diabetes patients with high blood sugar levels may damage blood vessels, promote inflammation, and disturb normal blood flow in the heart.

Uncontrolled diabetes can cause blood vessel damage due to high blood sugar levels. It can also cause nerve damage throughout the body, including those controlling the heart and blood vessels.

Several reliable studies show that excessive blood sugar levels can cause inflammation in the blood vessels and disturb normal blood flow in the heart. Long-term artery irritation causes a buildup of cholesterol and plaque. This means that the heart has to work harder to pump blood to you.

The longer a person has uncontrolled diabetes, the more likely they are to have heart disease. Blood sugar control lowers a person's risk of problems.

If you have diabetes running in your family, it is best to be in touch with your general physician on a consistent level. Regular examinations and checkups go a long way as well. Access Health Care Physicians not only offers state-of-the-art examination facilities but a physician directory of some of the best healthcare doctors based near you.

Frequently Asked Questions

People with diabetes have a considerably increased chance of having heart disease. It is estimated that around 68% of diabetics aged 65 and up die from some kind of heart disease.

While both type 1 and type 2 diabetes are linked to an increased likelihood of heart disease, type 2 diabetes patients are at a higher risk. Type 2 diabetes is frequently associated with obesity, high blood pressure, and dyslipidemia, all of which increase the risk of heart disease.

Diabetes-related chronic hyperglycemia (high blood glucose levels) causes inflammation, oxidative stress, and endothelial dysfunction, all of which contribute to the development of atherosclerosis. 

While diabetes-related problems cannot always be completely avoided, their risk can be considerably decreased by sustaining good glycemic control, controlling blood pressure and cholesterol levels, leading a healthy lifestyle, and following the specified treatment plan. Regular medical check-ups and screenings are also necessary for detecting and managing issues early on.