Diabetes complications: Your heart has to work overtime
The risk of heart disease is two to three times higher in people with diabetes, making it the strongest risk factor for heart disease, according to Joslin Diabetes Center. A cluster of issues are at play. Blood vessels in diabetes patients—already impaired—are more vulnerable to wear-and-tear from other risks like smoking, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. (And according to Joslin, 90 percent of diabetes patients have one or more of these additional risk factors). Diabetes patients also have increased low-grade inflammation in the lining of their arteries, which can lead to the stiffness that precipitates heart disease.
Fortunately, many of the same good lifestyle habits can help prevent both diabetes and heart disease. Even if you’ve heard them before, these big ones bear repeating: Stop smoking, lose weight if you need to, maintain a healthy blood pressure and blood fats/cholesterol, get physical activity, and keep blood glucose levels in check. Don’t miss these simple tricks for living well with diabetes—from people who have it.
Diabetes complications: Serious, but preventable
Everyone knows about the worst-worst-worst case scenarios. But the experts Reader’s Digest interviewed assured us that they’re rare—and very preventable. “Just because you have diabetes doesn’t mean you will lose your sight or your kidneys or your legs,” says Aaron Cypess, MD, PhD, investigator at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases at the National Institutes of Health. “None of these things has to happen. You can stop or reverse the progression and get back your quality of life.”
The key is to be aware of the risks that can happen when diabetes isn’t well controlled (these everyday habits can ruin diabetes control)—and work with your doctors to make sure yours is.