The need of the hour is to know your heart health risk factors and commit to a lifestyle that ensures a lifetime of heart health.
Dr Shashank Joshi
Diabetics have an increased risk of heart failure if they have more heart health risk factors. As a youth with diabetes, this can happen to you, even when your blood pressure or weight is normal. The need of the hour is to know your heart health risk factors and commit to a lifestyle that ensures a lifetime of heart health. Your healthcare expert may prescribe you diabetic medicines to meet your goals, and you should take them regularly. This is because even if your blood glucose levels are normal, you’re still at the risk of heart disease. And taking medicines regularly will prevent heart disease risk and other long-term complications of diabetes. Also, you shouldn’t stop taking your medicines without checking with your doctor first.
The prevalence of diabetes continues to grow throughout the world. Worryingly, India is now witnessing an alarming rise in the incidence of diabetes, bringing along a spectrum of other serious health implications. The most prevalent ones are heart problems, occurring at a relatively younger age in our country. India reports over 72 million cases of diabetes, according
to the International Diabetes Foundation. And despite blood sugar control, the youth-onset type 2 diabetes is impacting the future health of youths, putting them at an increased risk of heart failure.
This indicates the need for raising awareness to reduce heart health risk. To prevent Coronary Artery Disease (CAD), knowing your heart health risk and taking good care of diabetes is extremely important.
As a diabetic, you are vulnerable to heart stroke
People with diabetes have a greater chance of heart attack and stroke. This is because their blood sugar levels are often high and uncontrolled. This damages many organs of the body including their blood vessels, starving their heart of oxygen and eventually leading to heart disease and increased risk of heart failure.
You can get heart problems despite a healthy lifestyle
Indians are much more conscious about their health than before. Still, heart disease is striking people at a younger age, making youths in their 30s and 40s the new heart health risk category. Despite the obsession to achieve fitness goals, attending classes regularly in some of the country’s finest gyms and staying current with the latest health and fitness information, youths are encountering heart health issues. Even those who appear healthy, exercise regularly and are particular about their diet still develop heart problems. The biggest reason is that very few are aware of the alarming statistics of diabetes, heart health risks associated with it and how their diet and lifestyle, play a crucial role. Youths, for instance, have the misconception that diet and physical activity alone dictate their blood sugar levels and they don’t need a blood sugar check until middle age. If Indian youths are unaware of the heart health risk factors, then it’s very unlikely they will take steps to address them. This shows that there’s a need to raise awareness for cardiovascular risk factors in Indian people.
How people with diabetes can prevent heart disease risk
The good news is that the small steps are taken to manage your diabetes also help you lower your chances of heart disease risk. Lifestyle modification plays a significant role in preventing heart disease risk. Here are some things that will help you reduce your risk:
Lower your cholesterol levels – To control your diabetes and reduce your heart disease risk, it’s important that you monitor and maintain healthy levels of lipids. Cutting down on saturated fats and trans-fats is extremely important. Ideally, you should keep regular check of HDL, LDL and triglycerides to make sure they’re within the specified limits. If you’re a diabetic, get your lipid profile done every year.
Keep blood sugar levels under control – Keep your blood sugar as normal as possible. Testing your blood sugar and bringing your levels down is particularly important. Consult your healthcare team for A1C test and keeping blood sugar levels under control.
Manage blood pressure – High blood pressure puts you at increased risk of heart attack and stroke. The blood pressure goal for most people with diabetes is below 140/90 mm Hg. If you have blood pressure above this level you may need medicines. It is important for you to check blood pressure at every doctor’s visit and know what your goal should be.
Develop healthy lifestyle habits – One should follow a healthy eating plan, and make physical activity a part of daily routine. For people with diabetes, it’s important to stay at a healthy weight, learn to manage stress, avoid smoking and limit alcohol consumption. Staying physically active, losing weight, eating healthy and avoiding smoking will significantly reduce
your risk of heart attack and stroke.
Take your medicines regularly – You may also need medicines as part of your diabetes care plan based on your specific needs. If your doctor prescribes your medicines, the most important thing is to take them regularly, without missing any doses.
Talk with your doctor today if you want to check your heart health risk. For people with diabetes, it’s important to understand their individual risks immediately, get their lipid levels checked and not wait for cardiac symptoms. Regular preventive check-ups can go a long way in reducing heart disease risk and leading a better quality life.
(The author is an Endocrinologist, Lilavati Hospital, President – Indian Academy of Diabetes. Views expressed are personal.)