World Diabetes Day 2019: How does disease take toll on heart health?


Having diabetes means you have too much sugar in your blood and can affect the way your heart works, and harm blood vessels. For example, the lining of the blood vessels may become thicker, which can impair blood flow.


Diabetes can damage other organs as well, including the kidneys. High blood glucose levels can cause damage to all parts of the cardiovascular system. Excess blood sugar decreases the elasticity of blood vessels and causes them to narrow, impeding blood flow. This can lead to a reduced supply of blood and oxygen, increasing the risk of high blood pressure and damage to large and small blood vessels.

Also read: World Diabetes Day: How chronic disease can be controlled in children

Over the time, high blood glucose from diabetes can damage your blood vessels and the nerves that control your heart and blood vessels. The longer you have diabetes, the higher the chances that you will develop heart disease.


When a person has diabetes, his/her blood sugar levels are often much higher than it should be. Too much sugar in the blood can cause damage to many parts of the body, including blood vessels resulting in coronary artery disease. This damage makes it easier for fatty deposits to form in arteries and cause narrowing or blockages that can lead to heart attacks or strokes.

According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) people with diabetes are two to three times more likely to have a stroke or die of some form of heart disease than those without diabetes. People with diabetes also tend to develop more serious heart problems at an earlier age than people without the condition.

Those with diabetes sometimes suffer what is called “silent ischemia” or silent heart attack, which account for 25-30 percent of heart attacks. Silent, in this case, means the patient gets a heart attack without experiencing chest pain. People with diabetes usually don’t feel chest pain because of nerve damage caused by poorly controlled diabetes. The symptoms that are felt may be ignored, or passed off as indigestion or stomach upset, vague dizziness or weakness.

People with type 2 diabetes are 2.5 times as likely to develop congestive heart failure than people without diabetes. This is partly because many of the key risk factors for heart failure are common in people with type 2 diabetes, such as a body mass index over 25, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, or a history of a heart attack. (Other risk factors for heart failure include heart valve problems, sleep apnoea, lung disease including from smoking.)

Also read: Small height makes you prone for type-2 diabetes

Smoking raises your risk of developing heart disease by narrowing blood vessels.

Being overweight or obese can also affect your ability to manage your diabetes and increase your risk for many health problems, including heart disease and high blood pressure. Excess belly fat around your waist, even if you are not overweight, can raise your chances of developing heart disease.

If you have high blood pressure, your heart must work harder to pump blood. High blood pressure can strain your heart, damage blood vessels, and increase your risk of heart attack, stroke, eye problems, and kidney problems.

The best way for prevention of heart disease is to take good care of themselves and their diabetes. Losing weight helps in lot of health problems. It’s best to keep cholesterol level in prescribed limits. A person with diabetes is at a much greater risk for heart attacks, strokes, and high blood pressure. A healthy diet, regular physical activity, weight loss, smoking cessation, limited alcohol consumption and proper medication all are beneficial.

(Disclaimer: Writer is Dr Pradeep Gadge, a leading Diabetologist, Gadge Diabetes Centre. Views expressed are a personal opinion.)

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