November is Diabetes Awareness Month, with November 14th specifically noted as World Diabetes Day. These are observed each year so that the healthcare community and those affected by diabetes can bring attention to diabetes and its impact on so many in our communities. In honor of the day we are drawing attention to the theme for this year- the link between diabetes and heart disease.
According to Everyday Health, “the connection between diabetes and heart disease starts with high blood sugar levels. Over time, the high glucose in the bloodstream can damage the arteries, causing them to become stiff and hard. Fatty material that builds up on the inside of these blood vessels, a condition known as atherosclerosis. This can eventually block blood flow to the heart or brain, leading to heart attack or stroke.”
However, there is no reason to fear. There are some lifestyle changes that both manage diabetes and lower the risk of heart disease and it’s associated complications.
Being physically active and exercising is a fantastic way to keep in shape, lose excess weight, and improve heart health. Exercise can also help lower blood sugar and improve your body’s ability to use insulin. If you’re not sure where to start, check out our post on the best workouts for people with diabetes!
Eat a Heart Healthy Diet
Making healthful choices when it comes to your diet can make a huge difference in diabetes management. Reducing foods high in saturated fats, trans fats, salt and cholesterol and adding foods higher in fiber will reduce risk of heart disease as well as manage diabetes symptoms. Check out our Test Kitchen for easy and delicious recipes!
Keep Blood Glucose Within Range
Keeping blood sugar levels within range is key in diabetes management, and will help reduce risk of damage to your arteries. Using a glucometer to check blood sugar day by day helps keep track of levels and to notice patterns and improvements. Check our Blood Testing FAQ for more info on how to monitor your levels, and consider A1c testing with your dietitian as well.
Smoking and other tobacco use greatly increases the risk of health complications for people with diabetes and/or heart disease. According to DiabetesEducator.org, heart disease risk decreases by 50% just one year after stopping smoking.