- Diabetes can increase risk of heart disease by 2-4 times
- Diabetics may develop heart disease at an earlier age
- Weight control is important to reduce risk of heart disease in diabetics
World Diabetes Day: November 14 is observed as World Diabetes Day. India houses the second largest number of people with diabetes (>95% is type 2 diabetes) only second to China. According to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), with the current explosive growth trends, the number of diabetics is likely to increase to 134 million in 2045 from 77 million in 2019. The reality is that India is the diabetes capital of the world as large percentage of the diabetic patients actually don’t know that they have the disease (undiagnosed diabetes). The diabetes epidemic in our country is fuelled by a major socio-demographic-nutritional and environmental change in India.
People are moving towards urbanisation, eating habits are changing towards more processes calorie dense foods (fast/junk foods), people are becoming physically inactive, stress levels are peaking and environmental pollution is shifting the balance towards greater risk of diabetes. Very importantly India is a young country, and diabetes is now afflicting the young population, afflicting them at the prime years of life.
World Diabetes Day: Know the link between diabetes and cardiac disease
The relation of diabetes and heart disease is an important one. Facts about diabetes and the heart:
1. Presence of diabetes increase the risk for heart disease by 2-4 times.
2. The main reason for loss of quality and quantity of life in a diabetic patient is heart disease.
3. Diabetics may develop heart disease at an earlier age as compared to their non-diabetic counterparts.
4. Heart disease in diabetics has a greater likelyhood of being more severe and involve multiple arteries of the heart.
5. Important risk factors which predict future risk of heart disease in a diabetic patient: age, gender, family history of heart disease, bad eating habits, physical inactivity, obesity, hypertension, high cholesterol, smoking/tobacco, alcohol, mental stress etc.
6. One of the main reason for advising strict sugar control to diabetic patients is to limit the future risk of heart disease.
7. Strict sugar control, as early as possible once diabetes is diagnosed is one of the very important way to minimize the future risk for heart disease.
8. Optimal sugar control in the early years after diagnosis of diabetes helps create a good ‘metabolic memory’ in the body which translates in to a ‘legacy’ of prevention of heart disease events in the future.
9. Some important, ways for prevention of heart disease in diabetics include maintaining optimal weight, blood pressure and cholesterol control, healthy diet, regular exercise, tobacco cessation, mental relaxation and use of anti-diabetic medicines which have proven benefit of heart protection.
Tips to maintain cardiovascular health for a diabetic patient
- Eat healthy: Your diet habits should focus on the ‘3’ guiding principles: “Quality”……”Quantity”…….and……”Timing”. Important not just to balance the calorie intake, but also to ensure a healthy proportion of carbohydrate, fat and protein be attained to ensure a heart friendly diet. The diet must be enriched with micronutrients, fats, fibre and minerals.
- Regular exercise is the other vital pillar of a healthy heart lifestyle for diabetics. You must always ask your diabetes care team before engaging in an exercise schedule. In an exercise schedule you should work of 2 important areas: “duration” and “intensity”. When starting on an exercise schedule work first on duration before increasing the intensity of exercise. Vital to good health, your exercise program must include flexibility, aerobic, strength training and yoga as per your care teams advise.
- For diabetic patients the new frontier of attaining a healthy heart health in no more limited to just losing weight. We now tailor our diabetes care programs to attain a healthy body composition. The diabetes care advise is focused on ensuring you lose fat at the same time build muscle mass and strength. Muscle is one of the most important organ involved in blood sugar regulation. Hence, a good muscle health along with fat loss will help control your sugar levels more effectively and durably and keep your heart healthy
- Limiting mental stress in also very vital for heart protection. Meditation and yoga can help minimize mental stress, ensuring heart disease is kept at bay.
- Smoking/tobacco consumption is an absolute ‘NO’ for diabetic patients
- Without any robust data about a major cardiac protective role of alcohol consumption, my personal advise is not to consume any type alcohol
- Finally, periodic testing and regular consultation with your diabetes care doctor will ensure not only your sugar levels are controlled, and the heart disease risk factors are optimally taken care of.
These basic tips will ensure a long healthy and happy life with a healthy and smiling heart.
(Dr. Jasjeet Singh Wasir, Associate Director Endocrinology and Diabetology- The Medanta)
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