beating heart

Tips for a Healthy Ticker

Cardiovascular disease is a very real problem, one that many people with diabetes face. “People with diabetes have a higher-than-average risk of having a heart attack or stroke. These strike people with diabetes nearly twice as often as people without diabetes.”1 So what can you do about it? There are many tips and recommendations on reducing your cardiovascular risk when you have diabetes. Let’s explore.


As if you do not have enough diet recommendations and changes with diabetes, there are a few additional recommendations for a healthier heart. Blood cholesterol levels are affected by diet as they measure the amount of fat in your blood. LDL cholesterol can clog arteries. If arteries are blocked it can lead to heart attack or stroke. Following a low saturated fat diet while eating enough healthy or unsaturated fats is important to normalizing cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Saturated fats are found in animal sources such as butter, steak, chicken with the skin and more. Unsaturated fats are found in other food sources such as salmon and avocados. A good rule is that if the fat is white and solid at room temperature, it is a saturated fat and should be consumed in moderation. Try choosing a plant-based butter, and switching meats to boneless, skinless chicken breasts and fish. Another important diet recommendation is low sodium. Sodium, also known as salt, can affect blood pressure. High blood pressure can also increase cardiovascular risk. Try recipes without salt, or add other spices. There are substitutes such as Mrs. Dash ® that are a delicious way to flavor without salt. Also, watch processed food intake such as frozen and canned meals, as well as fast food. These things are often loaded with salt for flavor and preservation.

Physical activity

As if you haven’t heard it enough, getting enough physical activity also decreases risk of cardiovascular disease. Be sure to speak with your physician about what level of physical activity is appropriate for you. Even small changes in activity level can help heart health by lowering weight. Weight loss can also lead to better blood glucose control.


Your physician may also recommend medication to help you meet your cardiovascular goals. Be sure to speak with him or her if you have any questions. In 2007, the American Diabetes Association made a joint statement with the American Heart Association recommending not only weight loss, but also the importance of medication in helping to control cardiovascular disease in people with diabetes.2

“Diabetes is a deadly disease, but the truth is that most people who have it will actually die from heart disease, its most common and too often fatal complication,” said John Buse, M.D., Ph.D., President-Elect, Medicine & Science, American Diabetes Association, Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and co- author of the joint statement.2 It is important to use this information to make the best choices you can to care for your health. Speak with your physician about your cardiovascular risk and if there is anything else you can do to lower it.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.
View References
  1. American Diabetes Association. Heart Disease. Retrieved November 7, 2018, from
  2. American Diabetes Association. Diabetes, Heart Associations Align Fight Against Heart Disease (January 2, 2007). Retrieved November 7, 2018, from


View Comments (4)
  • Riddler
    4 months ago

    Thanks for the article Katie. Very good one. There’s so many things that diabetes gets involved with that people don’t know about or understand. So many hear ‘diabetes’ and think that it’s nothing to worry about.

  • Katie Gutwald, RD moderator author
    4 months ago

    Hi Riddler, I agree. Diabetes is much more complicated than we think. But even small changes or steps can lead to a healthier direction! Have a great day, Katie Gutwald RD

  • Katie Gutwald, RD moderator author
    4 months ago

    That must be so difficult for you. Just stay strong and have confidence in your choices! You are doing your best! Katie

  • Riddler
    4 months ago

    I agree in that. I was getting at talking with others about it and them still not grasping on how it’s not as simple as they think and that damages occur everywhere being a diabetic. I’m constantly getting the ‘deer in headlights’ from people including those that have/had family members with type one or type two diabetes. They just can’t seem to grasp on what goes on.

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