Diabetics Can Decrease Their Risk of Heart Disease

Set goals to stay healthy while keeping diabetes under control

Did you know that the most serious health problem for people with diabetes is heart disease?

If you have had diabetes for a long time, you are more than twice as likely as people without diabetes to have heart disease or a stroke.

Your chance of having a heart attack is the same as someone who has already had one. And having a heart attack or stroke makes it more likely that you will have another.

You can lower your risk by keeping your blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol under control.

Will Other Problems Increase My Risk For Heart Disease Or Stroke?

  • Your chances of getting heart disease or having a stroke are even higher if:
  • One or more members of your family had a heart attack at an early age-before age 55 for men or 65 for women.
  • You carry extra weight around your waist.
  • Your LDL (bad) cholesterol or triglycerides, another type of blood fat, are high.
  • Your HDL (good) cholesterol is low.
  • You have high blood pressure.
  • You smoke.

What Can I Do To Prevent Heart Disease And Stroke?

Talk with your doctor about what your goals should be for blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol. Your health care team can tell you about changes in diet, activity and medication that will help you reach your goals.

You can take these steps to keep your heart and blood vessels healthy:

  • Follow a "heart-healthy" meal plan that your doctor or a dietitian designs for you.
  • Be physically active for 30 to 60 minutes most days. For example, go for a walk every day.
  • Take your medicines as directed and keep taking them, even after you've reached your goals.
  • If you smoke, quit.
  • Ask your doctor if you should take aspirin to prevent heart disease or stroke.

Where Can I Get More Information About Diabetes?

National Diabetes Education Program
1 Diabetes Way
Bethesda, MD 20814–9692
Phone: (888) 693–6337
TTY: (866) 569–1162
Fax: (703) 738–4929
Email: ndep@mail.nih.gov

National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse
1 Information Way
Bethesda, MD 20892–3560
Phone: (800) 860–8747
TTY: (866) 569–1162
Fax: (703) 738–4929
Email: ndic@info.niddk.nih.gov

Adapted from "Diabetes, Heart Disease, and Stroke: What You Need to Know," a publication of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), National Institutes of Health (NIH).

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