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Diabetes and heart disease go hand in hand. If you have diabetes, you have twice the chance of having heart disease or stroke than a person who does not have diabetes. The most common type of heart disease in diabetes patient is coronary artery disease. In this, cholesterol gets deposited in the arteries that supply blood to the heart. Because of this there is hardening and blockage of these arteries. This leads to angina or chest pain, a symptom suggestive of coronary artery disease. If one of these arteries gets blocked suddenly, it can cause a heart attack. Apart from causing cholesterol deposits in the coronary arteries, diabetes also leads to higher incidence of hypertension and dyslipidemia. They, in turn, again lead to a higher incidence of coronary artery disease.
Many studies have shown that there is a high prevalence of coronary artery disease among diabetes patients. In fact, up to 70 per cent of diabetes patients, even if they are completely asymptomatic, may have minor or major blocks. And, 30 per cent of diabetic patients do have significant blocks.
Heart disease is definitely a risk if you are diabetic. But you can significantly bring down your risk if you follow a few simple rules in your daily life. Dr Santosh Kumar Dora, Senior Cardiologist, Asian Heart Institute, Mumbai, tells you how you can do so.
If you are a patient of diabetes, you need to take care of what you eat. Diet, along with exercise and, if needed, medication, can help you maintain your blood sugar levels. Diabetes patients should follow a healthy diet, which contains less carbohydrate and fat. It is advisable to take a dietician's help to have an appropriate diet plan.
Exercise is very important for diabetic patients. If you suffer from this condition, you must perform regular dynamic exercise like walking, cycling, swimming etc. for at least 30 to 45 mins a day. This will go a long way in helping you control your condition.
If there is simultaneous hypertension, you must seek appropriate treatment for it. High blood pressure is a very big risk factor of heart disease. Often, diabetes patients take lipid lowering drugs to keep blood lipid level under control.
Annual heath checkup should include cardiac screening as well. This includes echocardiography and stress test. Diabetes patients who are high risk for heart disease should also have CT coronary calcium score or CT coronary angiogram to detect any blockage. Early detection of block helps in taking appropriate steps to prevent block progression or heart attack. These are the various steps that you can take to bring down your risk of heart disease if you are a diabetic patient.
Smoking is not recommended for any patients and this is especially so for diabetic patients. This habit gives rise to many health issues and is one of the most common causes of coronary heart diseases. So stop smoking immediately if you are in the habit of doing so.
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