The Link Between Diabetes and Heart Disease

People with diabetes are two to four times more likely to have heart disease, points out Sherry Davidson, RN, CDE, diabetes coordinator at Baylor Regional Medical Center at Plano. While the connection between the two conditions isn’t entirely clear, insulin resistance plays a part.

“One of the things that I remind patients is that in general, the risk factors for heart disease—smoking, excess weight, lack of exercise, poor diet—are also linked with type 2 diabetes. Insulin resistance increases risk even more,” Davidson says.

She says to reduce heart disease risk, people with diabetes should control the ABCs of diabetes:

A1c, which is a measure of blood sugar levels.

Blood pressure.

Cholesterol levels.

Lifestyle modifications, such as exercise and dietary changes, and medication, can help. Davidson recommends 150 minutes of exercise a week. “It doesn’t have to be going to the gym every day,” she says. “A walk can do wonders.”

Switching to smaller, more frequent meals helps, too. “A lot of people eat large meals but then skip meals. Eating less but more often can help you control portions,” she says.

And don’t forget a support system. “A lot of people make changes for a month or two but find it hard to continue. You need to find someone or something that can keep you motivated for the long haul,” she adds.

According to Abraham Jacob, MD, interventional cardiologist on the medical staff at The Heart Hospital Baylor Plano, “Understanding the risks that diabetes poses as well as an increase in your cardiovascular risks by at least twice that of an individual without diabetes, following your doctors’ orders such as diet, exercise, and medications are critical to your overall morbidity and mortality. Although diabetes puts you at increased risk for cardiovascular disease, following the goals set out by your doctor may prevent a cardiovascular event. ‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.’ So, be proactive in your medical care and enjoy life to its fullest.”

For a referral or information on the Diabetes Self-Management training classes and support group, call 1.800.4BAYLOR.

For more information about:

Diabetes care please visit

Cardiovascular care please visit


Notice Regarding Physician Ownership: The Heart Hospital Baylor Plano is a hospital in which physicians have an ownership or investment interest. The list of the physician owners or investors is available to you upon request. Physicians are members of the medical staff at one of Baylor Health Care System’s subsidiary, community or affiliated medical centers and are neither employees nor agents of those medical centers, Baylor Regional Medical Center Plano, The Heart Hospital Baylor Plano or Baylor Health Care System. ©2013 Baylor Health Care System


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