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Diabetes Awareness Month

Diabetes Awareness Month

November is National Diabetes Month, a time when communities across the country team up to bring attention to the very serious disease, diabetes. In partnership with the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, this year, the focus is on the link between Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease. 

Adults with diabetes are nearly twice as likely to die from heart disease or stroke, as opposed to those without diabetes. Why? This is because over time, high blood glucose - or high blood sugar - from diabetes can damage your blood vessels and the nerves that control your heart. The good news is that the steps you take to manage your diabetes can also help lower your chances of having heart disease or stroke. 

For instance: 

  • Stop smoking or using other tobacco products.
  • Manage your A1C, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. 
  • Develop or maintain healthy lifestyle habits, such as being more physically active and learning ways to manage stress. 
  • Take medicines as prescribed by your doctor. 

All of these points above are necessary steps to help keep your diabetes under control, and to help prevent further diseases from diabetes. 

Diabetes, Heart Disease, & Stroke

Having diabetes means that you are more likely to develop heart disease, and have a greater risk of a heart attack or stroke. People with diabetes are also more likely to have certain conditions, or risk factors, that increase the risks of having heart disease or stroke, such as: high blood pressure or high cholesterol. If you have diabetes, you can protect your heart and health by managing your blood glucose, also called blood sugar, as well as your blood pressure and cholesterol. If you smoke, seek help to quit. 

What is the link between diabetes, heart disease, and stroke? 

Over time, high blood glucose from diabetes can damage your blood vessels and the nerves that control your heart and blood vessels. The longer you have diabetes, the higher the chances that you will develop heart disease. 

People with diabetes tend to develop heart disease at a younger age than those without diabetes. In adults with diabetes, the most common causes of death are heart disease and stroke. Adults with diabetes are nearly twice as likely to die from heart disease or stroke as people without diabetes. 

The steps you take to manage your diabetes can also help to lower your chances of having heart disease or stroke. 

If I have diabetes, what else increases my chances of heart disease or stroke? 

If you have diabetes, other factors can add to your risk of developing heart disease or having a stroke, such as:

  • Smoking: Smoking raises your risk of developing heart disease period. If you have diabetes, it's important to stop smoking because both diabetes and smoking narrow blood vessels. Smoking also increases your chances of developing other long term problems, such as lung disease. Smoking can also damage the blood vessels in your legs, and increase the risk of lower leg infection, ulcers, and amputation. 
  • High Blood Pressure: If you have high blood pressure, your heart must work harder to pump blood. High blood pressure can strain your heart, damage your blood vessels, and increase your risk of heart attack, stroke, eye problems, and kidney problems.
  • Abnormal Cholesterol Levels: Cholesterol is a type of fat produced by your liver and found in your blood. You have 2 types of cholesterol in your blood: LDL and HDL. LDL, often called "bad" cholesterol, can build up and clog your blood vessels. High levels of LDL cholesterol raise your risk of developing heart disease. Another type of blood fat, triglycerides, also can raise your risk of heart disease when the levels are higher than recommended by your doctor.
  • Obesity & Belly Fat: Being overweight or obese can affect your ability to manage your diabetes and increase your risk for many health problems, including heart disease and high blood pressure. If you are overweight, a healthy eating plan with reduced calories often will lower your glucose levels and reduce your need for medications.
  • Family History of Heart Disease: A family history of heart disease may also add to your chances of developing heart disease. If one or more of your family members had a heart attack before age 50, you may have an even higher chance of developing heart disease. You can't change whether heart disease runs in your family, but if you have diabetes, it's even more important to take steps to protect yourself from heart disease and decrease your chances of having a stroke. 

How can I lower my chances of a heart attack or stroke if I have diabetes?

Taking care of your diabetes is important to help you take care of your heart. You can lower you chances of having a heart attack or stroke by taking the following steps to manage your diabetes to keep your heart and blood vessels healthy. 

Manage your diabetes ABCs

Knowing your diabetes ABCs will help you effectively manage your blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol. Stopping smoking if you have diabetes is also important to lower your chances for heart disease. 

A is for the A1C test: The A1C test shows your average blood glucose level over the past 3 months. This is different from the blood glucose checks that you do every day. The higher your A1C number, the higher your blood glucose levels have been during the past 3 months. High levels of blood glucose can harm your heart, blood vessels, kidneys, feet, and eyes. 

The A1C goal for many people with diabetes is below 7%. Some people may do better with a slightly higher A1C goal. Ask your doctor what your goal should be. 

B is for blood pressure: Blood Pressure is the force of your blood against the wall of your blood vessels. If your blood pressure gets too high, it makes your heart work too hard. High blood pressure can cause a heart attack or stroke and damage your kidneys and eyes. The blood pressure goal for most people with diabetes is below 140/90mm Hg. Again, ask your doctor what your goal should be. 

C is for cholesterol: LDL, or "bad cholesterol, can build up and clog your blood vessels. Too much bad cholesterol can cause a heart attack or stroke. HDL, or "good" cholesterol helps remove the bad cholesterol from your blood vessels. Ask your doctor what your numbers should be. If you are over 40 years old, you may need to take medicine to lower your cholesterol and protect your heart. Some people with very high LDL cholesterol may need to take medicine at a younger age. 

S is for stop smoking: Not smoking is especially important for people with diabetes because both smoking and diabetes narrow blood vessels, so your heart has to work harder. If you quit smoking, you will lower your risk for heart attack, stroke, nerve disease, kidney disease, eye disease, and amputation. Your blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels may improve, your blood circulation will improve, and you may have an easier time being physically active.

Develop or maintain healthy lifestyle habits

Developing or maintaining healthy lifestyle habits can help you manage your diabetes and prevent heart disease. Follow your healthy eating plan, make physical activity part of your routine, stay at or get to a healthy weight, and get enough sleep.

Learn to manage stress: Managing diabetes is not always easy. Feeling stressed, sad, or angry is common when you are living with diabetes. You may know what to do to stay healthy, but may have trouble sticking with your plan over time. Long-term stress can raise your blood sugar and blood pressure, but you can learn ways to lower your stress. Try deep breathing, gardening, taking a walk, yoga, meditating, hobbies, or music.

Take medicine to protect your heart: Medicines may be an important part of your treatment plan. Your doctor will prescribe medicine based on your specific needs. Medicine may help you meet your A1C, blood pressure, and cholesterol goals. It may also reduce your risk of blood clots, heart attack, or stroke, as well as treat angina.

Talk with your doctor if you have questions about your medicines and what ones you should be taking. Before you start a new medicine, ask your doctor about possible side effects and how you can avoid them. If the side effects bother you, tell your doctor. Don't stop taking medication without checking with your doctor first.

How Do Doctors Diagnose Heart Disease in Diabetes?


Doctors diagnose heart disease in diabetes based on your symptoms, your medical and family history, how likely you are to have heart disease, a physical exam, and results from tests and procedures. Tests used to monitor your diabetes help your doctor decide whether it is important to do other tests to check your heart health. 

What are the warning signs of heart attack and stroke?

Call 911 right away if you have warning signs of a heart attack:

  • Pain or pressure in your chest that lasts longer than a few minutes or goes away and comes back. 
  • Pain or discomfort in one or both of your arms or shoulders; or your back, neck, or jaw. 
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Sweating or light headedness.
  • Indigestion or nausea.
  • Feeling very tired. 

Treatment works best when it is given right away. Warning signs can be different in different people. You may not have all of these symptoms. If you have angina, it's important to know how and when to seek medical treatment too. Women sometimes have nausea and vomiting, feel very tired (sometimes for days), and have pain in the back, shoulders, or jaw without any chest pain. People with diabetic nerve pain or damage may not notice any chest pain. 

Call 911 right away if you have warning signs of a stroke, including sudden:

  • Weakness or numbness of your face, arm, or leg on one side of your body.
  • Confusion, or trouble talking or understanding.
  • Dizziness, loss of balance or trouble walking.
  • Trouble seeing out of 1 or both eyes.
  • Sudden severe headache.

If you have any one of these warning signs, call 911. You can help prevent permanent damage by getting to a hospital within an hour of a stroke. 

Here at Mountainside Medical, we offer Diabetes supplies that can help you live your best life. See them all by clicking here, or give us a call at 1-888-687-4334 to speak with one of our Medical Supply Specialists. Be sure to speak with your doctor or other qualified healthcare professional before starting or stopping any medication, supplements, or beginning a health regimen.   

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