Diabetes and Heart Disease
Individuals who are diagnosed with diabetes become focused on controlling their blood-sugar levels. One important health concern for someone diagnosed with diabetes is the correlation between being diabetic and developing cardiovascular disease. Medical cardiology helps diabetic patients understand and manage the risk factors they face for heart-related issues.
What is Diabetic Heart Disease (DHD)?
The American Heart Association reports that among diabetics who have reached 65, at least 68 percent die due to some type of heart-related disease. Adult diabetics are between 200 and 400 percent more likely than those who are not diabetic to die because of a heart-related disease. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, when compared to patients who are not diabetic, adult diabetics:
- Face an elevated risk for a heart-related disease.
- Experience additional causes of cardiac disease.
- Might develop cardiovascular disease when younger.
- Might experience disease that is more severe.
The three heart diseases associated with being diabetic include:
Both type 1 and type 2 diabetics can develop DHD. The higher the level of blood sugar, the greater the risk.
Several processes influence the development of DHD, either alone or in combination. They include coronary atherosclerosis, metabolic syndrome, and insulin resistance. An interaction between having CHD, being diabetic, and suffering from high blood pressure also appears to play a role.
Compared to non-diabetic individuals, diabetic patients have a greater chance of experiencing heart attacks and blood-vessel diseases. They tend to experience more complications following a heart attack, including angina and heart failure and are more likely to die because of heart-related disease.
How Cardiologists Help Patients with Diabetes
An evaluation by a heart specialist can help prevent DHD. Cardiologists are skilled at managing both cardiovascular risk and cardiac conditions.
An assessment should include a consultation with a board-certified specialist. A diagnosis of DHD is the result of a physical examination, evaluating both patient and family health histories, and reviewing test, and procedure results. Among the most common initial tests are the measurement of blood pressure, laboratory bloodwork, a chest X-ray, an electrocardiogram, urinalysis, and a stress test. A cardiologist is likely to recommend additional exams or procedures.
Sometimes patients with DHD have what doctors refer to as “silent” disease. Early testing and regular monitoring are important for uncovering an issue before patients notice any symptoms.
The cardiologist’s assessment might indicate the need for making changes in diet, physical activity, or other lifestyle elements. Sometimes physicians recommend medications to manage blood coagulation issues or cholesterol levels.
DHD treatment seeks to control diabetic disease and risk factors such as hypertension and to relieve or reduce symptoms such as angina. Cardiologists also seek to prevent or delay complications such as heart attacks and to repair any heart and coronary artery damage.