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Risk of Cardiovascular Diseases: What Role Does Diabetes Play?

Risk of Cardiovascular Diseases: What Role Does Diabetes Play?

Numerous studies have stated the fact that diabetes is one of the most common conditions worldwide. The fact that there is no complete cure available makes it all the more alarming. However, it is possible to live with diabetes in a healthy manner. However, there are numerous lifestyle changes involved, along with medication and injections, wherever required, basis the severity of the condition, the age of the person, and the type of diabetes.

The condition in itself is not scary, but it surely has repercussions that can create more serious conditions. For instance, the risk of cardiovascular diseases in people with diabetes is considerably higher than those who are non-diabetic. This is because there are high-risk factors of heart disease in a person suffering from diabetes due to the damage to the blood vessels.

So, how is the risk of cardiovascular diseases high in diabetes patients? Let’s find out.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a condition wherein the pancreas starts behaving in a faulty manner, leading to less or no secretion of insulin, the hormone that is responsible for regulating glucose content and supplying energy to the body via nerves. As a result, there is an accumulation of glucose in the blood, leading to high blood sugar levels which are extremely harmful.

Diabetes can either be

  • Prediabetes, which is nothing but high blood sugar level
  • Type 1 diabetes, which is mostly caused due to autoimmune conditions
  • Type 2 diabetes, which is mostly a more developed form of prediabetes and happens due to unhealthy lifestyle and obesity. Such an unhealthy lifestyle is responsible for the risk of cardiovascular diseases as well, as most of the risk factors and causes of diabetes are similar to that of heart diseases.

Diabetes and stroke

Diabetes has been proven to be a major risk factor for cardiovascular diseases. The main reason for the same is that if a person has high blood sugar levels for a considerable time, it starts wearing down the blood vessels. This in turn is responsible for various complications in the heart, eventually leading to cardiovascular diseases and even stroke.

Diabetes and cardiovascular disease are inextricably linked. Diabetes happens due to the inability of the pancreas to produce insulin, as a result of which a high level of glucose is accumulated. This then sticks to the red blood cells and builds up in the blood, creating blocks and damaging the blood vessels that transfer nutrients and energy to the heart.

Thus, diabetes and the risk of cardiovascular diseases are directly proportional to each other. As the blood sugar level elevates, the chances of heart conditions increase. It can even be fatal. Thus, it is very important to keep diabetes in check so that there are no chances of damages to the heart. You can do that by managing your cholesterol, blood sugar levels, and blood pressure. Also, ensure that you visit your doctor regularly to catch any complication which may occur due to the relationship between diabetes and heart disease.

While the aforementioned are the basics that should be followed if you want to prevent the chances of contracting cardiovascular disease as a diabetic, there are further things to keep in mind.

Diabetes and heart attack

To further understand the link between diabetes and the risk of cardiovascular diseases, you have to understand what exactly triggers a heart attack.

Firstly, understand that there are two major blood vessels in your body, arteries and veins. While the former is responsible for carrying blood away from your heart, the latter carries it back to the heart. Naturally, if these blood vessels get damaged, the blood supply to the heart would be impaired, leading to complications. Diabetes is the result of high blood sugar levels which are known to damage blood vessels. Thus, patients with diabetes are more likely to contract heart diseases.

Another major trigger for cardiovascular diseases is hypertension or high blood pressure. This is also a trigger for type 2 diabetes and a result of it as well. High blood pressure often strains your blood vessels, leading to damage, thus increasing the risk of cardiovascular disorders and stroke.

High cholesterol too serves as a trigger for cardiovascular diseases. The extra fat in your blood sticks to the blood vessels’ walls, and eventually hardens to form plaque. This can block the blood vessels. As blood tries to pass through the even narrower passage, it can damage the vessels, leading to heart attacks. This very much explains the relationship between diabetes and heart disease.

High cholesterol and hypertension are also triggers for diabetes. Thus, diabetes and cardiovascular disease have common triggers and causes. Diabetes increases the chances of cardiovascular diseases.

Are there any other risk factors?

Most of the risk factors that can cause diabetes are also the ones that can cause cardiovascular diseases. Let’s take a look at some of them here:


Lack of exercise and physical inactivity is a part of an unhealthy lifestyle. This is the first thing that is corrected when you are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. A healthy diet plan along with a recommended workout is prescribed to diabetic patients. This further reduces the calories and sugar levels in the blood. Obesity can increase the chances of contracting heart diseases.

Family history

Now, this is something beyond control. If your family has a history of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, the best that you can do is follow a healthy lifestyle diligently, right from the start. Here is where precaution is better than cure.

ABCs of Diabetes and Cardiovascular Diseases

An interesting way to manage your lifestyle well with diabetes and reduce the chances of getting cardiovascular disease and stroke is by following the acronym ABCs.

Here’s what it means:

A – This stands for the A1C test which is basically a test that reflects your blood glucose level for the past three months. The higher the number, the more you should worry. If the A1C test indicates higher blood sugar levels, you need to be cautious for it can affect your heart, kidneys, and nerves.

B – This stands for blood pressure. As stated, high blood pressure or hypertension is another trigger for diabetes and the risk of cardiovascular diseases increases accordingly. High blood pressure can give you a stroke. Keep a tab on your blood pressure if you do not want a spike in your diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

C – This stands for cholesterol. LDL is the bad cholesterol that can clog your blood vessels and damage them, leading to heart conditions. The good cholesterol HDL makes sure the bad cholesterol stays away.

S – Stop smoking, drinking too, if possible. If you are addicted, withdrawal symptoms may be there. Thus, the best way would be to seek professional counseling. Smoking and drinking are major triggers for both diabetes and cardiovascular disease. While drinking within limits is still fine, smoking is an absolute poison for the body and especially for the heart. Quit as soon as possible.

Final Reminders

The relationship between diabetes and heart disease is quite strong. You cannot ignore one and manage the other. Maintain your lifestyle well and in a healthy manner so that your heart remains healthy.

Learn more about Diabetes Complications here.


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Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


Diabetes and cardiovascular disease: Epidemiology, biological mechanisms, treatment recommendations and future research / https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4600176/ Accessed on May 20, 2020

Diabetes and heart disease / https://www.diabetes.org.uk/guide-to-diabetes/complications/cardiovascular_disease / Accessed on May 20, 2020

Diabetes, Heart Disease, and Stroke / https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/preventing-problems/heart-disease-stroke / Accessed on May 20, 2020

Cardiovascular Disease and Diabetes /https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/diabetes/why-diabetes-matters/cardiovascular-disease–diabetes / Accessed on May 20, 2020

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Written by Nikita Bhalla Updated Apr 26
Fact Checked by Hello Doctor Medical Panel