Did you know that people with diabetes are twice as likely to develop heart disease or stroke at a younger age than people without diabetes? And, the longer you have diabetes, the more likely heart disease becomes. Diabetes also contributes to high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, which can lead to additional serious health issues.
According to the American Heart Association, diabetes is one of the major controllable risk factors for heart disease. You’re at even higher risk if you:
- Have excess belly fat (even if you’re not overweight)
- Live an inactive lifestyle
- Consume a lot of saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, or salt
- Frequently drink alcohol
How Can I Lower My Risk for Heart Disease?
To manage your diabetes and lower the risk of heart disease, some changes you can make to your lifestyle habits include:
- Eating well-balanced meals with more fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains.
- Avoiding or reducing your intake of processed foods, fast food, trans fats, sugary beverages, and alcohol.
- Getting at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week.
- Setting a regular sleep schedule and trying to sleep soundly for seven to eight hours per night.
Keep in mind that heart disease can often develop without any symptoms, so it’s critical to have regular checkups with your Primary Care Provider (PCP). When you speak with your PCP, they can help you manage the “ABCs” of heart health, which include:
- A1C: A regular A1C test will tell your PCP your average blood sugar level over the past two to three months.
- Blood Pressure: Ask your PCP what your blood pressure goal should be.
- Cholesterol: Get your blood checked regularly for cholesterol buildup.
- Stop Smoking (or don’t start): Both smoking and diabetes can narrow your blood vessels, which can put excessive strain on your heart.
For additional guidance and support, your PCP can refer you to an in-practice Registered Dietitian Nutritionist or Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist. At AdvantageCare Physicians, these specialists will work as part of your Care Team to create an eating and lifestyle plan for managing your condition and improving your entire health picture. To get started, make an appointment with your PCP today.