Manage Diabetes to Protect Your Heart

Although heart disease is the leading killer of men and women in America, the Presidential Proclamation announcing American Heart Month declares, “While no one is immune to heart disease, everyone can take steps to reduce their risk.”

One such step anyone can take is to be on guard against diabetes. Diabetes doesn’t stop at elevated glucose in the blood. Diabetes can affect other parts of the body including the heart.

According to the National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP), a partner of the National Institutes of Health, people with diabetes are two to four times more likely to have heart disease than people without diabetes. The NDEP also reports that 20% of deaths from heart attack are related to diabetes or prediabetes.

Make no mistake about it. Any serious senior health program aimed at keeping your heart healthy has to involve diabetes prevention or management.

1. Is Diabetes Always Preventable?

Both your family history and lifestyle play key roles in determining your chances of getting diabetes.

Some seniors who have diabetes were diagnosed during childhood with Type 1 (juvenile-onset) diabetes. For these people, any medical or lifestyle interventions have to deal with management and not prevention.

Dealing with symptoms such as thirst and hunger, fatigue, frequent urination, and loss of feeling in the feet, people with Type 1 diabetes normally make dietary changes, take daily injections, and frequent monitor their blood sugar levels. Over time many people deal successfully with the symptoms of Type 1 diabetes, and even manage to minimize some of them.

Because the steps for managing diabetes overlap considerably with steps for maintaining good heart health, many people wisely managing diabetic conditions find they’re also doing good things for their hearts. This is partly because keeping the upper hand against diabetes often involves making heart-wise lifestyle and healthy nutrition choices. Fitness training goes also goes a long way toward keeping diabetes in check.

The connection is clear. As your diabetes goes, so goes your heart.

2. What About Type 2 Diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes sneaks right up on many people. Most don’t even have a clue it’s coming.

Many seniors and other adults don’t even suspect they’re at risk for Type 2 (adult-onset) diabetes. In many cases they have no family history of the disease, and they may not even notice personal changes indicating they’re diabetic or prediabetic. Symptoms of Type 2 diabetes largely mirror those of Type 1, but often the symptoms develop so gradually that a Type 2 sufferer may barely even notice he or she has developed them.

The best approach to nearly any potential medical problem is a preemptive one. Deal with the problem as early as possible. Don’t give it time to become serious. Attack while you’ve got the upper hand. An ounce of prevention is worth …

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