Cardiovascular Disease in Women – Diabetes

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease in where the body either does not make insulin or cannot use insulin properly. Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life. When glucose (blood sugar) builds up in the blood instead of going into cells, it can lead to potential health complications including blindness, kidney disease, amputations, heart disease, and stroke.

How is diabetes associated with cardiovascular disease?

The most life-threatening consequences of diabetes are heart disease and stroke, which strike people with diabetes more than twice as often as they do others. Most of the cardiovascular complications related to diabetes have to do with the way the heart pumps blood through the body. Diabetes can change the chemical makeup of some of the substances found in the blood and this can cause blood vessels to narrow or to clog up completely. More than 65% of deaths among people with diabetes are due to heart disease and stroke. In people with diabetes, cardiovascular complications occur at an earlier age and often result in premature death.

What are the preventable risk factors for diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease that cannot be cured but there are ways to lower the risk of developing it. The number one controllable risk factor for diabetes is being overweight. It is very important to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, blood pressure level, and cholesterol level by being physically active and eating a healthy diet. Quitting smoking, if you smoke will also decrease your risk of developing diabetes.

If you have diabetes, you should work with your doctor to control your blood sugar. Good control of your blood sugar helps to prevent heart disease and stroke.

More information:

LEARN MORE ABOUT BRIGHAM AND WOMEN’S HOSPITAL


For over a century, a leader in patient care, medical education and research, with expertise in virtually every specialty of medicine and surgery.

About BWH