Double Whammy

Diabetes is not heart disease, but they are close friends.

Diabetes is not heart disease, but they are close friends. Heart disease and high blood pressure are also good friends. In fact, the three of them often travel together in the same body and create all sorts of havoc.

  • At least 68% of people over 65 years of age with diabetes die of some form of heart disease and 16% die of stroke.
  • Adults with diabetes are two to four times more likely to die from heart disease than adults without diabetes.
  • High blood pressure is a major risk factor for many kinds of cardiovascular disease including heart attack, coronary heart disease, heart failure, aortic dissection and atherosclerosis (fatty buildups in the arteries that cause them to narrow and harden). It can also cause strokes, kidney failure and vision loss.
  • Diabetes, even when controlled, increases the risk of high blood pressure.
  • When patients have both hypertension and diabetes, which is common, their risk for cardiovascular disease doubles.
  • The American Heart Association considers diabetes to be one of the seven major controllable risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

Both diabetes and high blood pressure are treatable. Lifestyle changes such as losing weight, eating healthy and increasing physical activity can help with both. Other helpful habits include:

  • Managing stress
  • Avoiding tobacco smoke
  • Taking medications as prescribed

Both conditions require attention every day. You cannot take your meds for the week on Sunday or only when you feel symptoms. You cannot manage your stress only on the weekends. Or eat a healthy diet every third day. Or test your blood sugar once a week. Or take your insulin once a month.

Inconsistent practice produces inconsistent results. Diabetes and high blood pressure demand full-time focus because they can lead to heart attacks, strokes and kidney failure.

High blood pressure and diabetes may or may not produce symptoms. That’s why high blood pressure is called the silent killer. Research indicates that 11% of adults with diabetes don’t know they have it. The best way to know if you have either of these diseases is to get tested. Then, whatever the results, make your health. a priority. Your health is your LIFE. Work with your healthcare provider to develop a plan to reduce your risk. This may include lifestyle changes and/or medications.

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