The heart is a rather important piece of equipment for the human body. Although technically a muscle, the heart is responsible for pumping blood throughout the body, which in turn provides oxygen and nutrients. The heart is also responsible for helping to filter out certain wastes from the body. Without this particular organ, most of the tissues in your body would die out. And you would, well… die!
The heart also plays an important part in society as it represents the love centre of our very being and contributes to the emotional aspect of our lives. This is a misinterpretation, of course. Despite its importance, the heart is actually pretty frail and delicate and can suffer a huge host of problems, none of which are pleasant or easy to deal with. If you have Type-1 Diabetes, some of those conditions can be aggravated as well, since both Diabetes and Heart Disease share a number of similar risk factors, such as obesity, poor diet and blood pressure issues
According to an article posted by WebMD, “Data from the National heart Association from 2012 show 65% of people with Diabetes will die from some sort of heart disease and stroke. I general, the risk of heart disease death and stroke are more than twice as high in people with Diabetes.” (https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/heart-blood-disease#1)
Although it’s more prominent in people with Type-2, people with Type-1 are still at an increased risk. There are a number of things that one can do to prevent and mitigate some of the risk:
- Physical Activity: I know I sound like an annoying parrot with this, but exercising regularly will not only help maintain blood sugars but will control obesity; hence, my next point;
- Weight Management: Keeping your weight under control can help increase insulin sensitivity and help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease;
- Control Cholesterol and Blood Pressure: My first two points will help with this, but there are also preventative medications that your doctor can prescribe to help maintain healthy cholesterol levels. The same can be said about your blood pressure;
- Take Drugs: This sounds worse than it is… Besides the cholesterol thing, some preventative drugs can be useful for people with Diabetes in reducing certain heart risks;
- Quit Smoking: This one is pretty self-explanatory and is a good idea whether you have Diabetes or not. I’m guilty of the occasional cigar, but any type of smoking carries and increased risk for heart disease and stroke. Quitting is not always the easiest thing and often requires some help, through therapies or quitting aids such as nicotine patches or gum;
- Brush Your Teeth: Although you may be asking, “What the hell do my teeth have to do with my heart?” the answer is, quite a bit. Bad dental hygiene has been linked to bacterial infections through the gums, which can propagate to the bloodstream and affect the heart valves. The mayo clinic has a short article outlining the reasons. (https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/expert-answers/heart-disease-prevention/faq-20057986);
- Reduce Your Stress: This one is easier said than done, but reducing the active stress in your life will help with blood pressure and heart issues in general; and
- GET CHECKED!!!: There’s absolutely no problem with making an appointment and requesting a check-up for your heart. I, myself, run a stress test every three years and get checked regularly. Prevention is an extremely useful tool!
Everything that is usually recommended for good Diabetes management will also help with good cardiovascular health. Proper eating habits, good exercise and blood sugar control are paramount to preventing heart disease. When you get right to the heart of the matter, your health is in your hands (see what I did there?). ☯