How Does Diabetes Affect My Heart?

DiabetesIn a person with diabetes or high blood sugar, it can be a problem to try to manage just your blood sugars, let alone the other risks and complications.  Last week, I talked about how you can prevent high blood glucose becoming diabetes through diet control even before being diagnosed with diabetes.

This week, I want to highlight how people with diabetes are at high risk for developing heart disease among other complications and how you can manage your risk.  In a study about how diabetes can affect your heart’s ability to fully function*, it is clear that even in patients without signs and symptoms of coronary artery disease that diabetes will cause increased risk of adverse events.

While it is not clear why this happens, it is clear that diabetes can affect your heart through both high and low blood sugars.  When your blood sugar is too high and your body is working too hard to try to control it, you have problems.  Your body has to release insulin (and if you are diabetic you may not have too much of that) and try to get it to a manageable level.  You see, high blood sugars turn all of your body’s delicate balance on end and your system starts a complicated process to get everything back into order.  So, insulin, in addition to working on your blood sugar, converts blood sugar to fat.  Meanwhile, your body feels like it is starving and has a hard time breathing.  And if you have low blood sugars, you may get sick to the stomach or feel weak.  That’s not good either because your body has to start making protein into sugar so your basic bodily functions can work.  High or low, it’s a bad deal for your blood sugar to be out of whack.

Plus, you develop high triglycerides (fat in your blood) when you have consistently high levels of blood sugars.  Especially when you are eating a lot of simple sugars, such as sodas. Triglycerides are part of the amount of bad cholesterol your body has (such as LDL) and put you at a higher risk for heart disease.

So, bottom line is that you need to control your blood sugars and control your diabetes in order to lower your heart disease risk.

*  Anderson et al.  “Diabetes is associated with impaired myocardial performance in patients without significant coronary artery disease” Cardiovascular Diabetology 2010, 9:3

About Mathea

Mathea Ford, RD/LD, is the owner of Healthy Diet Menus For You, LLC. She has over 22 books on Amazon, check out her work at

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