Take Your Diabetes to Heart

| Aug 1, 2004

Heart disease is the number one killer of all Americans, and it plays a role in the deaths of nearly 80 percent of people who have diabetes.

“Angina pectoris” is a medical term for chest pain that is the result of insufficient oxygencarrying blood supply to the heart muscle (myocardial ischemia).

If the heart is deprived of oxygen for an extended period of time, the heart muscles become severely damaged. This condition is known as a heart attack, or myocardial infarction. The lack of blood to the heart is usually caused by a blockage in one of the coronary arteries, which direct blood to the heart.

Silence Isn’t Always Golden

The major cardiovascular problem in people with diabetes is “silent” ischemia, which means that they don’t have the warning signs of chest pain when their heart is being damaged by lack of blood flow.

If you don’t have chest pain, then you don’t go to the emergency room to seek help, and you will miss that important window of opportunity to get aggressive therapy before your heart muscles are damaged.

A life-saving “clot buster” medication that unclogs the heart arteries is now available, but it must be given within four hours of the start of the blockage. If given in time, this medication and other life-saving therapies can make a huge difference on the longterm overall health of your heart.

Know the Warning Signs of Heart Trouble

The classic symptoms of lack of blood supply to the heart (myocardial ischemia) are:

  • Chest pressure
  • Shortness of breath
  • Palpitations or your heart “beating funny”
  • Excessive sweating
  • Pain in the left arm or jaw pain

Other symptoms may be vague and nondescript, such as unusual fatigue. This is especially true for women with diabetes.

Six Ways to Avoid Heart Disease

To be proactive about preventing heart disease, you should

  1. Control your blood pressure
  2. Keep your cholesterol levels within the recommended limits
  3. Monitor your blood glucose levels and keep them on target
  4. Take aspirin, if your doctor gives you the okay (aspirin is not appropriate for everyone)
  5. Get screened annually for heart disease (earlier than for people without diabetes)
  6. Live a healthy lifestyle. Diet, exercise and don’t smoke

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Categories: Blood Glucose, Diabetes, Diabetes, Heart Care & Heart Disease

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