Diabetes

Diabetes is a lifelong condition that causes a person's blood sugar level to become too high.

  • Type 1 diabetes – where the body's immune system attacks and destroys the cells that produce insulin

  • Type 2 diabetes – where the body doesn't produce enough insulin, or the body's cells don't react to insulin

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Type 1 and type 2 diabetes are the most common forms of the disease, but there are also other kinds, such as gestational diabetes, which occurs during pregnancy, as well as other forms.  

Type 1 and type 2 diabetes can cause other health problems if not properly controlled. Some of the complications of diabetes can occur at any time while other may happen over time.

These complications can include: 

  • eye and sight problems 

  • gum disease and teeth problems 

  • difficulty with sexual arousal

  • urinary tract infections 

  • nerve damage 

  • heart disease: heart attack, stroke and vascular dementia 

  • feeling shaky, sweaty, or disorientated due to a sharp rise or dip in blood sugar levels 

  • diabetic ketoacidosis

Diabetes and Heart Disease:

Individuals with diabetes especially in combination with other risk factors are at even greater risk of heart disease. People with diabetes develop cardiovascular disease at a much earlier age than others. Heart disease that leads to heart attack or stroke is the leading cause of death among people with diabetes.

Over time, the high glucose in the bloodstream can damage the arteries, causing them to become stiff and hard. This increases the likelihood of developing atherosclerosis (build up of plaque in the arteries). This can block the vessels carrying blood to and from your heart causing heart attack or stroke.

If you are diabetic, it is important to manage your blood pressure and cholesterol level to reduce your risk of developing heart disease. Also, having a healthy weight is the best way to manage your blood pressure, cholesterol level and diabetes. 

Managing your diabetes and your heart:

If you are diabetic, your doctor will usually advise you to: 

  • Monitor you blood pressure

  • Apart from your daily glucose checks, you should have A1C tests at least twice a year.

  • Quit Smoking - both smoking and diabetes narrow blood vessels.

  • Eat a Heart Healthy Diet - Reduce consumption of foods high in saturated fat, trans fat, salt, and cholesterol, such as fried foods.
    Eat a range of foods including fruit, vegetables and starchy foods like pasta. Make sure to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner every day – skipping meals can cause your blood sugar levels to go too low.

  • Be physically active regularly

  • Maintain a healthy weight - Being overweight can affect your ability to manage your diabetes.

  • Take your medication as prescribed.

Even though people with diabetes have an elevated risk of heart disease, by managing their risk factors, through diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes, they may avoid or delay the development of heart disease.