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Know Your ABCs: The Diabetes and Heart Disease Connection

April 16, 2019

Many people are becoming more aware of the diabetes and heart disease connection. Across the country, 30.3 million people live with diabetes and are at risk for developing cardiovascular (heart) disease.

According to the American Heart Association, those with diabetes are two to four times more likely to fall ill from heart disease than those without diabetes. Those living with diabetes may also have high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol and high triglycerides, poor blood sugar levels and a lack of physical activity. Thankfully, diabetes is considered one of the major controllable risk factors for heart disease and can be managed with the help of professional care and by following the Healthy ABCs.

What are the Healthy ABCs?

The Healthy ABCs are three things you should monitor to lower your chance of developing heart disease in the future: A1C, blood pressure and cholesterol. By keeping each level within the average range, you can manage your diabetes and live a healthy life.

A: A1C

Your A1C, sometimes shown as estimated glucose level, informs you of your average blood glucose control for the past two to three months. Your A1C level can help you confirm your blood test results and judge if your treatment plan is working. Based on your own circumstances, your level may vary, especially if you are working on a plan with your provider.

B: Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is the force of blood inside your blood vessels. Your blood pressure is measured with two numbers, such as 120/80. The first number, called the systolic pressure, shows the pressure at which your heart beats and pushes your blood through the vessels. The second number, known as the diastolic pressure, is the pressure when the blood vessels relax between heartbeats. Take a look at what a healthy (and not so healthy) range is:

  • Average blood pressure: 120/80
  • Early high blood pressure: Between 120/80 and 140/90
  • High blood pressure: 140/90 and over

The lower your blood pressure, the better chance you have of preventing heart disease. If you are currently living with high blood pressure you can work with your primary provider to find a treatment plan for you, eat more whole-grains, exercise and reduce your salt intake.

C: Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a group of fats, referred to as lipoproteins, that are part of the body’s metabolism. Too much of certain lipoproteins can be very harmful. There are three types of lipoproteins to look for:

  • Low-density lipoproteins are known as “bad” cholesterol and can eventually lead to a buildup of cholesterol in the arteries.
  • High-density lipoproteins are the “good” cholesterol and can actually help to remove other cholesterol from the arteries.
  • Triglycerides can increase the chance of a heart attack or stroke if your level is too high.

If you’re looking to improve your cholesterol you may want to create a weekly exercise plan and add low-fat, low-cholesterol foods to your diet.

Having diabetes may increase the chances of developing heart disease, but nothing is set in stone! Luckily, there are many options for treatment, and they can be as simple as eating the right foods or taking a brisk walk every day. By developing and maintaining a healthy lifestyle and knowing your (healthy) ABCs you can finally break the diabetes and heart disease connection in your own life.

Download our guide if you’d like to get some additional information. “Heart Disease Facts That Could Change Your Life” is full of tips and things you can do to keep heart disease from developing.

Diabetes in America