The Real Connection Between Diabetes, Heart Disease & Health
When we think about Diabetes and Heart Disease, it seems that the majority of us think of two separate conditions. However, did you know that if you have diabetes you are more likely to develop heart disease and you have a greater chance of a heart attack or a stroke. That’s because people with diabetes are more likely to have certain risk factors such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
So, if you have diabetes (or know some one who has), there are a number of things that can be done and, understanding the connection between these diseases is a great first step towards prevention.
HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE
High blood pressure is one of the most common risk factors for heart disease (whether you have diabetes or not). And having high blood pressure places strain on your heart and damages your blood vessels. This makes you more susceptible to a variety of complications including heart attack, stroke, kidney problems, and even vision issues.
If you have both diabetes and high blood pressure, you’re at least twice as likely to develop heart disease. However, developing or maintaining healthy lifestyle habits can significantly help you manage your diabetes and also prevent heart disease. Did you know that the simplest way to control your blood pressure is to adopt a healthy diet and to exercise regularly, and this applies to us all…
HIGH BLOOD SUGAR (GLUCOSE)
If you have high blood sugar levels for a long period of time, your blood vessels can start to get damaged, resulting in serious heart complications. The reason for this is because your body can’t use all of this sugar properly, therefore more of it sticks to your red blood cells and builds up in your blood. This build-up can block and damage the vessels carrying blood to and from your heart, starving the heart of oxygen and nutrients.
Monitoring your blood sugar is an important part of properly managing your diabetes. Ideally, you should be checking your levels with a self-monitoring device. Then, you should be keeping a diary of your levels and bring it to medical appointments to review with your doctor.
OBESITY & BELLY FAT
Being overweight or obese can affect your ability to manage your diabetes and increase your risk for many health problems, including heart disease and high blood pressure. If you are overweight, a healthy eating plan with reduced calories often will lower your glucose levels and reduce your need for medications.
Excess belly fat around your waist, even if you are not overweight, can raise your chances of developing heart disease. Do you know how to measure your waist? This is all part of the 1-2-1 confidential workplace health checks.
Lastly a family history of heart disease may also add to your chances of developing heart disease. If one or more of your family members had a heart attack before age 50, you may have an even higher chance of developing heart disease. Although you can’t change whether heart disease runs in your family but, especially if you have diabetes, it’s even more important to take steps to protect yourself and develop healty lifetysle habits.
Improve Your Health, Reduce Your Risk…
The good news is, you can reduce the risk of having a heart attack or developing heart disease. These changes to your lifestyle can make a huge difference:
- Get your Glucose, Blood Pressure and Cholesterol measured.
- Don’t smoke. Smoking makes it harder for blood to flow around your body, especially to your heart.
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet. Reducing saturated fat is a good place to start.
- Be physcially active and do some regular exercise.
- Makitain a healthy weight.
- Take your medication as prescribed.
All of these lifeftyle modifcations alongside getting enough sleep, trying some relaxation techniques and managing stress are releavant to us all with or without a diabetes diagnosis (long-term stress can raise your blood glucose and blood pressure)!
But I don’t have diabetes…
Did you know that the older we get, the more likely we are to get diabetes, specifically type 2. Although no-one completely understands the causes of diabetes, if you control the risk factors, you can reduce your chances of getting it. It’s estimated that 4.5 million people are living with diabetes in the UK. A further 1.1 million people may have diabetes but haven’t been diagnosed. Worse still:
9 out of 10 of these cases are type 2 diabetes, the preventable form of the condition.
You can help reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes by understanding your risk and making changes to your lifestyle. Common risk factors include increased weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride (blood fat) levels. Sound familiar????
Here are some tips to help you reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes:
Manage your weight. Excess body fat, particularly if stored around the abdomen, can increase the body’s resistance to the hormone insulin. This can lead to type 2 diabetes.
Exercise regularly. Moderate physical activity on most days of the week helps manage weight, reduce blood glucose levels and may also improve blood pressure and cholesterol. Avoid sedentary behaviours!
Eat a balanced, healthy diet. Reduce the amount of fat in your diet, especially saturated and trans fats. Eat more fruit, vegetables and high-fibre foods. Cut back on salt. Drink lots of water. Watch portion sizes.
Limit takeaway and processed foods. ‘Convenience meals’ are usually high in salt, sugars, fat and calories. It’s best to cook for yourself using fresh ingredients whenever possible. Avoid those refined carbs!
Limit your alcohol intake. Too much alcohol can lead to weight gain and may increase blood pressure and triglycerides.
So if you reduce your risk of diabetes, you reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and vice versa!
Tonic’s Workplace Health Checks
Here at Tonic, we take your wellbeing seriously. Our vision is to bring wellbeing to heart of every organisation we work with. We deliver the best products and services to help individuals take control of, monitor, manage and prioritise their health and wellbeing. We work closely with our strategic partners to continually strive to develop innovative holistic programmes that will raise awarneness, promote wellbeing and ultimately empower every individual we see at our sessions.
During our health check sessions, our qualified practitoners can check the following, as well as covering lifestyle markers:
- BMI (Body Mass Index)
- Body Composition
- Blood Pressure
- Cholesterol (Full Lipid Profile)
- Blood Sugar (Glucose)
- Fitness Testing
- Lung Function
- Resting Heart Rate
- Stress Testing
- Waist:Hip Ratio & Circumference
CLICK HERE to find out more about our WORKPLACE HEALTH CHECKS, a great starting point on the road to a healthier workplace!