How Does Diabetes Affect the Heart?

How Does Diabetes Affect the Heart?
Published : Feb 03, 2024
Last Updated : Feb 06, 2024

When you have Diabetes, the chance of suffering from heart disease is more. It is also known as cardiovascular or coronary disease, which can lead to strokes or heart attacks.

In case you have a diabetes problem, your risk of developing cardiovascular disease is more than double when compared to a normal person. For patients with type 2 diabetes, heart disease is a very common cause of death.

Although there are several things you can do to lower the risk of heart disease. Understanding the connection between Diabetes and heart disease is the first step toward prevention.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is an ongoing health condition where your body's normal ways of controlling the blood glucose levels of blood sugar do not work properly. When your body breaks down food, your blood sugar level starts rising. The cells in your body also absorb the sugar in the bloodstream by using a hormone known as insulin and utilizing it for energy.

When your body cannot make enough insulin or use it properly, it will result in high blood sugar levels.

What causes heart disease in people who have Diabetes?

People with Diabetes have high glucose levels in their blood that can damage blood vessels and the nerves responsible for controlling them. Hardening of the coronary arteries or atherosclerosis is the main common cause of heart disease in people with Diabetes.

You need to know that atherosclerosis is a condition in which cholesterol is built up in the blood vessels that supply nutrition and oxygen to the heart.

When the cholesterol plaques break apart or rupture, the body tries to repair the plaque rupture by sending platelets to seal it up. As the artery is small, the platelets can block blood flow, restricting oxygen delivery and increasing the chance of heart attack.  

The same procedure can happen in all of the arteries in your body, leading to the lack of blood in your brain and causing a stroke or lack of blood in your feet, arms, or hands, causing peripheral vascular disease. 

People with Diabetes are not only at higher risk for heart disease but also at high risk of heart failure, which is a serious medical condition in which your heart is not able to pump blood effectively.

It can further lead to fluid build-up in your lungs that makes it difficult for you to breathe or fluid retention in other parts of your body, leading to swelling.

If you have Diabetes, then here are some factors that increase the chances of experiencing heart disease stated below:

High blood pressure

High blood pressure is a common risk factor for heart disease in people with Diabetes. It also puts strain on your heart and damages blood vessels. This further increases complications like vision problems, heart attack, kidney disorders, and stroke.


People with Diabetes are more likely to be obese or overweight. Both conditions are major risk factors for heart disease. Obesity also has a strong influence on your cholesterol levels, blood pressure as well as blood sugar.

Remember losing weight can decrease your chance of suffering from serious heart disease.

Sedentary lifestyle

A sedentary lifestyle can increase the risk factors for heart disease, such as obesity and high blood pressure. Doctors often recommend that adults get almost 2 hours and 30 minutes of adequate aerobic exercise a week. 

You can ask the doctor what exercise is best suited to your fitness requirements.

Know the symptoms of a heart attack.

The symptoms of a heart attack mainly include:

  • Feeling dizzy
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain in the shoulders, left arm, and jaw
  • Feeling faint
  • Nausea
  • Chest pressure or pain
  • Excessive or unexplained sweating

Remember, it is not important that everyone will experience pain or these symptoms with a heart. These symptoms are often true for women.

Ways to Protect Your Heart

  • If you risk developing cardiovascular disease, it's time to take appropriate action towards your heart's health. You can minimize the risk by making the following lifestyle changes. 
  • Eat a healthy and balanced diet
  • Do regular exercise
  • Lose weight
  • Quit smoking
  • Control your blood pressure
  • Reduce bad cholesterol
  • Find out medications that help
  • Set an appropriate HbA1C goal with your medic and work toward that goal.

 Take medications to protect your heart

  • Medications play a vital role in protecting your heart. Your doctor will prescribe you medicines based on your medical condition. Medications may help you by-
  • Meet A1C(blood glucose), maintain blood pressure, and reduce cholesterol
  • Reduce the risk of blood clots, and prevent heart attack or stroke.
  • Treat Angina or chest pain, usually seen as a symptom of heart disease. Symptoms of Angina can be an early sign of a heart attack.
  • Treat conditions like heart failure; It is a form of heart disease in which your heart cannot pump blood well enough for your body to work properly.

Take your medicines exactly as prescribed, especially if you take them for heart disease. You can ask your doctor whether you should take Aspirin daily or not. For some people, medicine like Aspirin can be unsafe. Your doctor can help you determine whether taking Aspirin is right for you, and if yes, then how much to take. 

Medications like Statins may help you lower the low-density lipoprotein(LDL) cholesterol levels in your blood. These drugs can reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke in people with Diabetes. Additionally, the use of certain diabetic medicines is effective in reducing the risk of heart attacks. Talk with your doctor to get prescribed statins or diabetic medicines that can help you reduce the risk of a heart attack.

Before you start taking a medicine, you need to ask your doctor about the possible side effects that may appear it. Also, ask how to avoid them and get safe and suitable treatment. If any side effects appear while taking medicines like statins or diabetic drugs, inform your doctor. Take medical attention if any side effects persist or bother you.

Therefore, if you have Diabetes, following your doctor's recommendation for prescription medicines and lifestyle changes is important to avoid the risk of heart disease.