February is Heart Health Month! Heart health and diabetes often go hand in hand, high blood sugar increases your risk of heart disease. People living with type 2 diabetes are 2-4 times more likely to have heart disease or experience a stroke.
Why does high blood sugar increase your risk for heart disease?
High blood sugar decreases oxygen available to the cells of your heart, blood vessels and arteries causing cell damage and death. High blood sugar damages your blood vessels, plaque is what is used to repair the cell, leading to plaque buildup.
Insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes and elevated blood sugar levels cause increased inflammation and clotting which not only damages the blood vessels but also leads to a buildup of plaque (cholesterol, fat, calcium, protein) that clogs the arteries. Plaques can also break off and lead to heart attack and stroke. High blood sugar can damage your nerves including the nerves that innervate the heart and blood vessels.
So what can you do to improve your Heart Health?
Smoking, high blood pressure, elevated body weight and high cholesterol all contribute to increased risk of heart disease so making changes in these risk factors will lower your risk of heart disease
- Stop smoking
- Take your blood pressure and diabetes medication
- Lower your carbohydrate intake so your blood sugars are in a healthy range and increase your intake of vegetables and healthy fats (olives, avocados, nuts, seeds), fish and seafood, low fat chicken and turkey (grass fed meat is healthier than farm lot raised meat, but it is more expensive and not available everywhere)
- Increase your physical activity
Exercising can reduce your risk of heart health and diabetes. Join us in the GlucoseZone to improve your heart health, lose weight, lower your A1c and reduce your medications.
Increasing your physical activity lowers your:
- blood sugar
- insulin levels
- blood pressure
- stress levels
- Body weight
This February, celebrate heart health month by taking steps to improve your heart health!
About the Author:
LaurieAnn Scher MS, RD, CDE is the diabetes educator for GlucoseZone. With over 30 years in practice, she embraces new technologies and ideas that are grounded in human physiology to help people with diabetes achieve the best outcome. With an undergraduate degree in Clinical Nutrition from Cornell University and a Masters in Applied Physiology and Nutrition from Columbia University, Teachers College, she is comfortable applying innovations in nutrition, exercise and diabetes to the current practice of diabetes management. LaurieAnn is comfortable with challenging the status quo to personalize diabetes care recognizing that while diabetes may be similar as a disease state, not everything works for all people all of the time. Join LaurieAnn to help discover how to manage your diabetes in the GlucoseZone.