Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease: What's the Link?
Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
- Coronary artery disease (CAD) and heart attack
- Cerebrovascular disease and stroke
- Peripheral artery disease (PAD) and claudication (pain with walking)
Why Is There a Risk?
- Their platelets have an added tendency to clump together leading to clotting problems and poor blood flow.
- They have higher rates of hypertension and obesity.
- They tend to have lipid disorders, particularly increased LDL or “bad” cholesterol, low levels of HDL or “good” cholesterol, and increased levels of triglycerides.
Who Are the High-risk Groups?
- People with a family history of diabetes
- Overweight and obese people, especially extra weight around the waist
- Older people
- Special populations
- African Americans
- Hispanic/Latino Americans
- Native Americans
- Asian Americans
- Pacific Islanders
- People with diabetes who smoke double their risk of CVD.
Management of Diabetes
- A—Blood glucose is measured with the hemoglobin A1C test. The recommended goal for this test is a reading of less than 7%.
- B—Blood pressure should be less than 140/80 mm Hg.
- C—LDL cholesterol
should be less than 100 mg/dL. Other cholesterol goals include:
- Triglycerides—should be under 150 mg/dL
- For men, HDL (good) cholesterol should be above 40 mg/dL, and for women it should be over 50 mg/dL
How Do You Lower the Risk?
- Get involved in treatment decisions with your healthcare team
- Be actively involved in the management of your disease
- Set lifestyle goals
- Become well-educated about diabetes and CVD
- Eat a healthy diet that’s low in saturated fat and cholesterol and low in sodium
- Eat more fiber
- Get at least 30-60 minutes of physical activity on most days of the week
- Diligently control your blood glucose, cholesterol, and blood pressure with and without medications
- Ask about aspirin therapy for CVD prevention
- If you smoke, quit. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor
American Diabetes Association http://www.diabetes.org
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases http://www.niddk.nih.gov
Canadian Diabetes Association http://www.diabetes.ca
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada http://www.heartandstroke.ca
Diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/stroke/index.aspx. Updated February 19, 2014. Accessed April 23, 2014.
Heart disease. American Diabetes Association website. Available at: http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/complications/heart-disease. Accessed April 23, 2014.
Hypertension treatments in patients with diabetes. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated Mar 17, 2014. Accessed April 23, 2014.
Lipid-lowering in patients with diabetes. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated Mar 31, 2014. Accessed April 23, 2014.
The link between diabetes and cardiovascular disease. US Department of Health and Human Services' National Diabetes Education Program website. Available at: http://ndep.nih.gov/media/CVD%5FFactSheet.pdf. Updated February 2007. Accessed April 23, 2014.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 05/2014 -
- Update Date: 00/42/2014 -