Controlling diabetes key to reducing heart disease
Dr. James Richardson
It has been well-established that heart disease is a top killer in the United States. Additionally, diabetes has been identified as a major risk factor for developing heart disease.
Diabetes is a common condition affecting more than 25 million people over 20 years of age in the United States and is a major contributor to death, playing a role in more than 200,000 deaths per year in this country. Up to 68 percent of deaths in diabetics are from heart disease. In fact, diabetics are two to four times more likely to die from heart disease than non-diabetics.
Diabetes leads to high blood sugar and often high insulin levels in the body. These complications lead to damage of almost all blood vessels in the body, including the coronary arteries,which supply blood to the heart, according to Dr. James Richardson, a cardiologist with Washington Health System Cardiovascular Care. When the coronary arteries are damaged, it is much easier for cholesterol to become deposited within the arterial wall, which leads to artery blockage. Ultimately, cholesterol plaque build-up and rupture lead to a heart attack.
Because diabetics are more likely to be affected by heart disease than non-diabetics, it is very important to aggressively control diabetes and other risk factors associated with heart disease. Other risk factors include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, sedentary lifestyle, and poor diet. By controlling these risk factors, the chance of developing heart disease can be effectively reduced and lives can be saved.
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