Type II Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease: Managing Risks

Over 20 million American adults have been diagnosed with Type II diabetes, the diabetic condition in which the body is not efficient in its use of glucose. It is estimated that at least 8 million more have diabetes but don’t know it. Whether due to insufficient insulin production or an inability for the body to properly use this hormone, diabetes is a serious condition because it sets the stage for numerous secondary concerns, including cardiovascular disease.

Cardiovascular disease accounts for the majority of deaths among diabetic patients. Current diagnostic standards for diabetes, as well as diabetes-related cardiovascular disease, include A1c testing. This lab work evaluates how much glucose has attached to the hemoglobin in red blood cells. Hemoglobin is the protein that holds oxygen. Its average lifespan is 3 months. Therefore, the A1c can obtain a clear indicator of blood glucose levels for that 3-month period.  A percentage value over 6.5 indicates diabetes. As percentage value increases so do the risk of cardiovascular disease.

There Is Good News

For individuals who are concerned about maintaining a healthy heart, there must also be a consideration for diabetes risk. If an A1c has indicated higher than normal glucose levels, there is hope in a healthy lifestyle.

Men and women with prediabetes or Type II diabetes are encouraged to make dietary modifications that involve adding more fresh vegetables and fruits to their plates. There are several diet plans, including the Mediterranean, modified carbohydrates, and DASH diets, which have been successful at lowering blood sugar and, thus, the risk of cardiovascular disease. These diets, when combined with a reduction in alcohol consumption and limited trans and saturated fats, can also facilitate a lowering of triglycerides, also associated with cardiovascular events.

Physical exercise is a vital aspect of healthy living and disease prevention. When the objective is to lower that A1c value, research indicates that a combination of aerobic exercise and strength training is ideal. In 2012 Look AHEAD (Action for Health in Diabetes) study, over 2,500 people, separated into two groups, were followed. One group changed nothing; the other gradually increased physical activity over several months.

The active group took the stairs more often and increased walking 10,000 steps a day became the norm. This group also eventually (by week 26) engaged in at least 175 minutes (just under 3 hours) of exercise each week. At the conclusion of the multi-year study, participants in the active group lost weight, lowered their triglycerides, improved good cholesterol, and lowered their A1c.

Premier Cardiology Consultants provides outstanding care in our Lake Success, Forest Hills, and Richmond Hill offices. We would be happy to schedule an appointment for you to visit us at 516-437-5600.

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