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Diabetes and Heart Disease
Q: I was just diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I was told that it increases my risk of cardiovascular disease. What is the relationship between diabetes and heart disease?
A: Cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke) is the leading cause of diabetes-related death. People with diabetes are two to four times more likely to develop cardiovascular disease due to a variety of risk factors, including high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, elevated blood glucose, and smoking. People with diabetes may avoid or delay heart and blood vessel disease by controlling the risk factors. It’s especially important to control the blood glucose levels. Even moderate weight loss can improve blood glucose levels, reduce blood pressure, and lower cholesterol, thus reducing the risk for cardiovascular disease.
Jennifer H. Mieres, M.D., is director of nuclear cardiology and associate professor of clinical medicine at New York University. She’s also a spokesperson for the American Heart Association.