How to Keep Your Heart Healthy if You’re Living with Diabetes

healthy heart, diabetes

If you have diabetes, you’re also more likely to have risk factors -- like obesity, high blood pressure, and elevated cholesterol -- that increase your chances of developing heart disease and suffering a heart attack or a stroke. Controlling your risk factors and keeping your blood sugar within a target range is the best way to protect your heart. Learn how you can take steps to lower your risk of heart problems and live well with diabetes.

Partner with a cardiologist

Having a cardiologist as part of your health care team is one of the best steps you can take toward keeping your heart healthy when diabetes threatens it. Here at Shahbandar Heart Clinic, Dr. Bahjat Shahbandar cares for patients throughout Northern Detroit and dedicates himself to providing the highest quality cardiology care. He helps patients with diabetes control their risk factors to lower the chances of diabetes-related heart complications.

What is the link between diabetes and heart disease?

Sustained elevated blood sugar is detrimental to the body. Among other things, it damages the blood vessels and nerves that your heart relies on to function properly. Over time, this damage increases the chances that you will develop heart disease. Additionally, most people with diabetes are overweight and tend to have heart disease risk factors, such as high levels of cholesterol in the blood and high blood pressure. The good news? People with diabetes can make changes to control their risk factors.

Here are some strategies you can use to keep your heart healthy.

Adopt a heart-healthy diet

Diet and lifestyle changes are the cornerstone of living healthy with diabetes. A diet that emphasizes vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats is proven to lower the risk of heart disease in people with and without diabetes.

A diabetes-friendly diet typically involves managing carbohydrate intake to help keep your blood sugar within a safe range.

Lose weight

Maintaining a healthy weight can go a long way in helping you to dodge the heart complications of diabetes. As your waistline expands, your risk for heart disease increases. Building a multidisciplinary team that includes a nutritionist or dietitian is a great step toward getting your weight under control to protect your heart health.

Get moving

The human body was meant to move. Physical activity has a number of health benefits, and getting plenty of exercise lowers the risk of chronic diseases, including heart disease. You don’t need to become a gym rat either. Studies show that even low-impact exercise like walking can help keep your heart healthy. People with and without diabetes should aim to get at least 150 minutes of exercise each week.

Stop smoking

If you have diabetes and you smoke, it’s important to quit. Smoking damages blood vessels and is a major risk factor for heart disease. People with diabetes who smoke are much more likely to develop heart disease than patients who don’t smoke. If you’ve tried to quit in the past, talk to your doctor about medications designed to help you quit.

Newer medications tackle diabetes and heart disease

Talk to us if you have diabetes and are concerned about your heart health. Newer medications like liraglutide and empagliflozin are shown to reduce blood sugar and lower the risk of dying from heart disease in patients with diabetes. These medications may be a good choice for patients with diabetes who are at a high risk for heart disease.

Each year over 600,000 Americans die of heart disease. Take control of your heart health so that you’re not one of them. To learn more about keeping your heart healthy, call us or book online to schedule an appointment with Dr. Shahbandar at one of our two Northern Detroit offices.

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