When our loved ones are living with diabetic heart disease, they may not display the typical symptoms, resulting in missing a diagnosis. And when there are some symptoms, it is not uncommon for them to be wrongly attributed to other causes. Many people discover that they have heart disease only when they experience severe chest pain (angina or heart attack)1. It is time to reset our thinking. A person with diabetes is more likely to have heart disease than a person without diabetes. This is because diabetes can cause blood vessels to narrow or clog up. A person with diabetes may also:
• Develop heart disease at a younger age
• Experience more severe heart disease2
There are three types of heart disease that diabetic patients tend to develop:
1. Coronary heart disease
Build-up of plaque—comprising fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other substances in the blood—causes arteries to narrow leading to reduced blood flow to the heart. Coronary heart disease can lead to chest pain or discomfort (angina), irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias), a heart attack, or even death.
Source of image: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/atherosclerosis
2. Heart failure
Over time, coronary heart disease can weaken the heart muscle, leading to heart failure. This means that your heart has difficulty pumping enough blood around the body, and you may suffer from shortness of breath, tire easily, or have swollen legs, ankles and feet.
Source of image: https://watchlearnlive.heart.org/CVML_Player.php?moduleSelect=hrtflr
3. Diabetic cardiomyopathy
Diabetic cardiomyopathy damages the structure and function of the heart; it can lead to heart failure and arrhythmias.
Source of image: https://www.cormedicalgroup.com/cardiomyopathy
The good news is that there are ways to reduce your risk. By reading this article, you have already taken the important first step to become informed.
1. Get moving. Being active benefits your heart, especially if you engage in aerobic exercises like sports, jogging, dancing, biking, swimming, or boxing that strengthen your heart and help your lungs function better.
2. Eat right. Follow a healthy eating plan. The Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI)’s “Pinggang Pinoy” is a plate-based food guide that features the right proportion of food that contains the right nutrients needed by the body of an average Filipino. It recommends whole grains like brown rice, corn, whole wheat bread, and oatmeal, which contain more fiber and nutrients than refined grains and are linked to lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, and other health problems. Include fatty fish in your diet like tuna, sardines, and mackerel 2-3 times a week to provide essential fatty acids that help protect against heart diseases.3
Lacking inspiration? Check out recipes from your various cooking shows on TV or Youtube or healthy cook books from bookstores.
3. Aim for and maintain a healthy weight. Obesity and diabetes together can have a harmful impact to your heart. If you are worried about your risk of heart disease, see your doctor to discuss your risks.
Additionally, the best way to reduce your risk is by knowing the gravity of yourself getting heart disease. To know your risk, we recommend taking our ASVCD Risk Calculator: Framingham Score Test, a test that estimates a patient’s risk of developing Coronary Heart Disease within a 10-year time period of a person who is currently not yet diagnosed with a particular heart disease. Knowing you risk helps you be informed on planning the next steps and actions in reducing your risk for ASCVD.
Disclaimer: The information provided is for information purpose only and is not meant to be substituted for the advice given by a registered medical practitioner. This information should not be used for diagnosing health problems or for self-medication. Boehringer Ingelheim shall not be responsible for any damages or losses arising out of access to or use of information provided.
1Heart Foundation n.d., What is coronary heart disease?, viewed 20 May 2018.
2National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute n.d., Diabetic Heart Disease, viewed 21 May 2018
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