By Dr Deepak Namjoshi
Heart disease is one of the most common conditions that affect millions of people across the world. It is one of the leading causes of death for men and women in several countries, and people with diabetes are twice as likely to develop cardiovascular diseases.
How diabetes affects the heart?
The most common type of heart disease in people with diabetes is coronary heart disease. A fatty, waxy substance called plaque accumulates in the arteries that carry blood to the heart with time, plaque gets hard and makes the arteries stiff. Many times this condition causes silent heart attacks with no warning signs, as well as mild heart attacks.
Type 2 diabetes, also called Diabetes Mellitus, is usually inherited genetically and is also lifestyle related. It is a chronic condition that occurs when the body is unable to pr oduce enough or effectively use insulin. Patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus have a considerably higher risk of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality.
Similarly, people with type 1 diabetes are at much greater risk of experiencing serious cardiovascular complications like heart attack, stroke, and coronary artery disease as compared to the general population. Further, if one has diabetes and that person smokes, he or she is more likely to have serious health problems from diabetes, including heart disease, kidney disease, and other severe complications. People with diabetes who quit smoking are better able to make their blood sugar levels.
Heart failure has become more common in patients with diabetes. As per the experts, the diabetic population is at almost four times higher risk of heart failure than the general population. Also, heart failure is a risk factor for diabetes, suggesting an interlinking between the two. In patients with diabetes, advanced age, duration of the disease, low insulin resistance, presence of coronary artery disease, and elevated serum creatinine are all independent risk factors for the development of heart failure.
Type 2 diabetes or heart failure severally proliferates the risk of getting the other, and both often occur together. This leads to further worsening patient conditions, more hospitalizations, more emergency department visits, earlier death, poor quality of life, and increased cost of care.
How to prevent it?
The effect of certain anti-diabetic medications heightens the metabolic risk of heart failure in diabetes. Thus, preventing heart failure using glucose-lowering drugs should be crucial for primary care physicians and cardiologists. Furthermore, diabetic patients with heart failure require a multidisciplinary approach to make clinical decisions on the intensity of glycaemic control, the type, and dose of glucose-lowering agents, and any change in the glucose-lowering therapy to be gradually implemented.
Much evidence suggests that all interventions effective at improving prognosis in patients with heart failure are equally beneficial in patients with or without diabetes. Promoting convergence and harmonization of early detection of risk factors and practical management help prevent or delay the onset of heart failure.
Therefore, it is essential to keep blood sugar levels under control, get regular exercise, maintain a healthy weight and eat a well-balanced diet.
Dr Deepak Namjoshi, Pulmonologist and Cardiologist, CritiCare Asia Multispecialty Hospital & Research Center
(DISCLAIMER: The views expressed are solely of the author and ETHealthworld does not necessarily subscribe to it. ETHealthworld.com shall not be responsible for any damage caused to any person/organisation directly or indirectly.)
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