Anatomical heart filled with diabetes supplies with veins protruding from the arteries.

Diabetes and Your Heart

Valentine’s Day isn’t the only reason we should be thinking about our hearts this month. February is American Heart Month and is dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of our heart health.

Diabetes and heart month

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, and people with diabetes are at a greater risk of developing heart disease. Learn some important facts on diabetes and heart health, and decide what you can do this month and every day to keep your heart healthy.

Know the facts:

  • According to the American Heart Association adults with diabetes are two to four times MORE likely to die from heart disease when compared to those without diabetes
  • At least 68% of people >65 years old with diabetes will die from some form of heart disease

Heart health and diabetes

Managing your diabetes includes more than just good blood sugar control! It is important to know your diabetes ABCs to prevent diabetes-related complications and keep your heart healthy! People with diabetes are also more likely to have other health conditions such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol, which are risk factors and may increase the risk of heart disease or stroke. Remember targets may be individualized for each person, and you should discuss your specific goals with your health care provider.

A is for A1c test

The hemoglobin A1c test is a blood test done every few months to assess your average blood sugar.

  • When should it be checked: Every 3-6 months, or as advised by your doctor.
  • Recommended target: The American Diabetes Association recommends a target A1c of <7%, which is an average blood sugar of around 154mg/dl. Aim to get fasting/pre-meal blood glucose levels between 80-130mg/dl and two hour post meal numbers <180.

B is for Blood Pressure

Controlling blood pressure is important to reduce the risk of heart attacks, heart failure, and strokes. Many people with diabetes are prescribed blood pressure medication, so remember to take consistently!

  • When should it be checked: At every clinical visit.
  • Goal: Less than 140/90 mmHG (maybe lower based on your risk).

C is for Cholesterol

Achieving and maintaining healthy cholesterol levels is crucial to keep your heart healthy and lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. Many people with diabetes have also been prescribed a statin and that should be taken as prescribed.

  • When should it be checked: Your lipid panel should be checked at LEAST annually, or as advised by your doctor.
  • Goal: Total cholesterol: <200mg/dL. LDL (bad) cholesterol: 40mg/dL in men, >50mg/dL in women. Triglycerides: <150 mg/dL

Heart health tips

Below are some general tips to control your ABC’s (A1c, blood pressure and cholesterol) and keep your heart healthy:

  • Understand your personal risk for heart disease and implement changes to lower risk
  • Achieve or maintain a healthy weight
  • Follow a heart-healthy diet
  • Choose healthy fats
  • Avoid unhealthy fats
  • Increase soluble fiber
  • Reduce sodium consumption
  • Increase physical activity (aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity a week)
  • Stop smoking!
  • Reduce stress

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