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Diabetes: Increased Risk Factor for Heart Disease

Sep 5, 2008
Diabetes can be a real threat to the cardiovascular system. It comes on slowly and can wreak havoc with the bodies systems before the individual knows that they even have diabetes. Diabetes can cause harm not only to the cardiovascular system but the eyes, the nerves, the kidneys, and impede the healing process. A clinical sign that someone may have diabetes is that they may have a difficult time healing from the slightest of skin injuries. People that have diabetes are at a two to four fold increase to developing heart disease or having a stroke. The advantage that pre-menopausal women have over men is diminished when they have diabetes. (1)

According to Christopher Saudek, M.D professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimoore and past president of The American Diabetes Association (ADA), having diabetes is such a strong risk factor for heart disease that it is equivalent to already having had a heart attack. Just why diabetes causes heart disease on such a destructive is unknown. Dr. Robert H. Eckel, M.K., professor of medicine at the University of Colorado Denver and past president of the American Heart Association., says it is a complicated connection.

From a physics standpoint, it can be seen that the heart is muscle and one that is reposonispible for pumping blood to the entire body. Since muscles need glucose to move and expend energy, it can be inferred what when there is a problem with he functioning of glucose iin the body, there will also be a problem with the heart as well.

There are those people that are insulin resistant. This implies that their bodies do not respond to insulin like other people. Insulin is responsible for putting sugar or glucose back into the cells instead of having it run rampant throughout the system. "Insulin resistance leads to vascular dysfunction, which indicate that there is an altering of the function of the blood vessels to respond normally to the bodies hormonal signals that tell veins to expand and or contract," notes, David M. Nathan, M.D. , professor medicine at Harvard Medical School and director of the Massachusetts general hospital Diabetes Center. It also leads to systemic, inflammation, as measured by levels of C=reactive protein and inflammatory cytokines. In this scenario, when type 2 diabetes develops there is a system of cascading events that effects many systems and causing such untoward effects such as high blood pressure, kidney disease, and heart disease.

Given as such wide spread evidence on the effects of diabetes on the cardiovascular system and other body functions, the reality of taking precautionary health measures becomes important. An estimated two out of every three adults with diabetes have hypertension. Diabetic dyslipidemia requires frequent blood work so that the individual knows what their levels of good cholesterol (LDL) and bad cholesterol (HDL) are. When the two are out of sync, a condition called atherosclerotic heat disease can occur. These people are usually candidates for heart bypass surgery, since their arteries become clogged.

In summary, those people with diabetes should take an active role in controlling their disease process. They can do this by getting regular fasting blood glucose levels and having their HDL and LDL tested. Normal values of these cholesterol levels are as follows; total cholesterol should be under 200; LDL under 200 and HDL above 50 for women, 40 for men, and triglycerides below 150. if your LDL, HDL and triglyceride levels are also at desirable levels and you have no other risk factors for heart disease, total blood cholesterol below 200 mg/dL puts you at relatively low risk of coronary heart disease. Even with a low risk, however, it is still smart to eat a health diet, avoid tobacco smoke and try to exercise daily... Have your cholesterol levels checked every five years or as your doctor recommends, and get regular fasting blood glucose levels. This preventative health maintenance should help increase your lifespan and provide many healthy and fulfilling years.
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