Contributed by: Priyaish Srivastava
Diabetes is a chronic condition that occurs when the body’s ability to absorb glucose from the food we eat is reduced significantly which results in the escalation of blood glucose levels.
Heart ailments are common in diabetes patients, and they are twice more likely to have heart disease or a stroke than a non-diabetic person.
Since the body’s ability to absorb sugar is compromised, more of it sticks with the red blood cells, obstructing the movement of blood to and from the heart. It leaves the heart starving for oxygen and nutrients essential for its proper functioning, which increases the risk of heart diseases.
But the ray of hope is that the risk of heart ailments can be reduced if you bring about certain lifestyle changes that not only help in controlling diabetes but also improve your heart health.
How does diabetes affect the heart?
Elevated blood glucose levels are one of the major causes of heart disease in a diabetic person. Moreover, other factors like too much LDL (bad cholesterol) and high blood pressure (hypertension) can also increase the risk of heart ailments.
When the bad cholesterol levels in the blood rise, it develops plaque in the arteries. This damages the artery walls, obstructing the flow of blood to the heart.
High blood pressure is another leading cause of heart ailments in diabetes patients. In this condition, the force of blood flowing through the arteries increases and damages the artery walls.
Other factors that can increase the risk of heart complications in diabetics include:
- Consuming alcohol
- Being overweight
- Not getting enough physical activity
- Unhealthy dietary choices that include a diet rich in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, and sodium
Being a diabetic also puts you at risk of heart failure. During heart failure, the heart doesn’t necessarily stop beating. The heart continues to beat but is not able to pump sufficient blood required for proper functioning.
This can cause swelling in the legs, fluid buildup in the lungs, and difficulty in breathing. Heart failure aggravates gradually, but with timely diagnosis and treatment, you can control the worsening of the condition.
Managing diabetes while taking care of the heart
Both diabetes and heart ailments are manageable, and with some lifestyle changes, you can help prevent the worsening of both conditions.
If you are a diabetic and haven’t been diagnosed with a heart ailment, these changes can not only help in keeping heart complications away but also control blood sugar levels. Some of these essential lifestyle alterations include:
Following a healthy diet
Diabetes is an incurable ailment, however, your diet plays a major role when it comes to managing the condition effectively. A healthy diet not only reduces the risks associated with diabetes but also improves your overall well-being, thus also keeping you protected from heart issues. Here’s a list of foods that can are extremely beneficial for you:
- Vegetables: Broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, green peas, cauliflower, and cabbage
- Fruits: Oranges, melon, berries, apples, bananas, and grapes
- Whole grains: Oats, barley, and quinoa
- Nuts: Almonds, walnuts, raisins, pistachios, and cashews
A proper exercise regimen
Exercising regularly increases the blood flow to the heart and helps in maintaining a healthy body weight. It also keeps you active throughout the day and makes your body sensitive to insulin, which helps manage diabetes.
If not high-intensity workouts, try simple moderate-intensity physical activities, such as yoga asanas, brisk walking, jumping ropes, and light jogging.
Stress increases blood pressure and can also give rise to unhealthy habits such as smoking, drinking, and overeating.
Try to avoid stressful situations and practise meditation, deep breathing, laughing therapy, talking to a family member or a friend, or seek professional help if you aren’t able to manage your stress levels.
Manage your ABCs
- Keep an eye on your blood sugar levels by getting tested for A1c on a regular basis
- Keep your blood pressure in check
- Maintain healthy cholesterol levels
- Stop smoking if you do or don’t start at all
Although diabetes is a lifelong condition, however, if you take good care of your health and follow the above-mentioned expert recommendations, you can easily manage both diabetes and any existing heart ailment effectively.
While a healthy lifestyle is a great tool for an effective diabetes management routine, still getting a regular diagnosis is also equally important as it helps in ascertaining the parameters that need to be kept under control to live a healthier life.
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