What is the connection between heart disease and diabetes?

Stacy Wiegman, PharmD
Pharmacy Specialist
Diabetes doubles your risks for heart disease and stroke, according to the National Institutes of Health. Having diabetes also means you may develop these problems at a younger age. High blood sugar levels can lead to deposits of fat on the inside of blood vessel walls, increasing your chances of narrowed, hardened and/or clogged blood vessels. If you have diabetes, talk to your doctor about the best ways to lower your risks for heart disease.

Adults with diabetes are two to four times more likely to have heart disease than nondiabetic people, and at least 65 percent of these patients will die from their heart disease.

The most important advice for the diabetic patient is to control modifiable risk factors for heart disease with the following actions:

  • Stop smoking.
  • Lower your blood pressure.
  • Control your weight.
  • Exercise.
  • Monitor your blood sugar levels.

Diabetes can increase the risk of heart disease by contributing to an increase in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and triglyceride levels while negatively impacting high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. People who live with diabetes, especially type 2 diabetes often suffer from other risk factors that increase the risk for cardiovascular disease such as hypertension, dyslipidemia and obesity.

Diabetes can increase your risk of heart disease and heart attack. In this video, Ronald Tamler, MD, clinical director of the Mount Sinai Diabetes Center, discusses the connection between the two diseases.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.