Diabetes Ups Heart Disease Risk


What you can do to help protect your heart

Only three out of five people with diabetes are taking statin drugs, though national guidelines recommend that they should take the medication, regardless of their blood cholesterol levels, unless contraindicated. That’s because people with diabetes are much more likely to have a heart attack or stroke than those without the disease. That statistic comes from a research letter published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology in 2017. Researchers looked at 215,000 patients, ages 40 to 75, in 204 cardiology practices.

Some people with diabetes may be confused by research showing that statins modestly increase the risk of developing the disease, but that has no bearing on the statin recommendation for people who already have diabetes. Indeed, both women and men who have diabetes are at elevated risk for heart disease, which is the most common cause of death among people with diabetes.

Fortunately, the same lifestyle changes that bring down blood sugar levels also protect your heart. Here are a few tips to help you manage diabetes and reduce your risk for heart disease:

  • If you’re overweight, talk with your doctor about weight-loss strategies.
  • Increase the servings of fruits and vegetables in your meals, and limit fat and saturated fat found in foods like red meat, cheese, butter, and products made with whole milk.
  • Do moderate aerobic exercise at least three days a week-ideally, five days a week. Add in two days a week of strength training.
  • If you smoke, ask your doctor to recommend a smoking-cessation program.
  • Get regular checks of your blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels.