3 Ways to Avoid Heart Attacks and Strokes If You Have Diabetes
People with diabetes are twice as likely to suffer from heart disease—here's what you can do to protect yourself.
Photo credit: Jason Tuinstra/Unsplash.com
Apr 14, 2020 • 3 min read
Because having diabetes means your body isn’t able to properly control its blood sugar, this can often lead to an excess of glucose in your blood vessels. That overload of sugar can result in clotting and clogs within your blood vessels over time, increasing your chance and risk of heart attack and stroke.
Some sobering facts for those with diabetes include that women are three times more likely to have a heart attack than women who don’t have diabetes, and men are twice as likely to have a heart attack as their peers without diabetes. Both genders are more likely to experience complications after a heart issue than people without diabetes, and both genders with diabetes are at a higher risk of dying from a heart complication than those people without diabetes.
Whether you have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, your heart health should be something you’re constantly thinking about. Here are three simple ways you can help prevent heart disease and keep your ticker strong.
Sweat for 30 Minutes
The most important things you can do every day to avoid heart disease and heart complications are exercise and enjoy a healthy diet, says Michael Quartuccio, MD, an endocrinologist at Rochester Regional Health. “The American Diabetes Association is our main organization for leading information about diabetes and we follow their recommended advice of 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise per week,” he says. “Moderate or vigorous means that you’re working out hard enough that you can talk to someone beside you but you’re struggling to sing,” he explains, adding that you should spread out your cardiovascular exercise over five days per week, 30 minutes per session.
Watch the Salt
From a homeopathic approach, Dr. Quartuccio recommends watching your salt intake. “It’s important to keep your blood pressure and cholesterol under control,” he says. Excess salt can negatively impact both and lead to a decrease in your ability to control your diabetes. “Lower your consumption of red meats and processed foods. You’ll want to eat more vegetables, especially those high in fiber, and more lean meats. Both fish and chicken have been shown to have benefits. There’s also evidence that a plant-based diet does well, so you could consider that, too,” says Dr. Quartuccio.
Stick with Your Meds
You should also make sure you’re taking your prescribed medications. “Pharmaceutically, anyone with diabetes over the age of 40 may benefit from statins, like atorvastatin (Lipitor), or rosuvastatin (Crestor),” he says. Statins are a class of lipid-lowering medications that reduce cholesterol and help reduce issues and complications from those at a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. “With diabetes, you’re at a higher risk for heart disease or a stroke, and there’s good evidence that statins help lower this,” he says. (If you do need a prescription, check to see if you can get it at a discounted price and with free home delivery through Blink Health.)
A common question Dr. Quartuccio fields is whether or not diabetics should be on a daily aspirin regimen to help protect their heart. “If you’ve had a prior heart attack or a stroke, we do recommend a daily aspirin, unless you’re at a high bleeding risk. It’s not a blanket statement, but we typically do push for that. If you’ve not had a heart event, there’s research that you may not benefit from this,” he says. “Five years ago, we were saying everyone with diabetes should be on aspirin, but we’re stepping back from that now. More research is needed, but we’re thinking it doesn’t do quite as much good as we had originally believed.”
This article is not medical advice. It is intended for general informational purposes and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your physician or dial 911.
Blink Health is not insurance. The discount prescription drug provider is Blink Health Administration, LLC, 1407 Broadway, Suite 2100, New York, NY 10018, 1 (844) 265-6444, www.blinkhealth.com.
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