Your Cardiovascular System and Diabetes

Cardiovascular system is one of the most important systems in the human body. It is comprised of the heart, blood and blood vessels. Blood is being pumped out from the heart and is responsible for delivering oxygen and other nutrients to all the parts of the body. It also cleans up our body by picking up the waste products on its way back to the heart so our body can get rid of them.

So what has diabetes got to do with the cardiovascular system? Since blood is part of the cardiovascular system, and diabetes is a condition in which the level of glucose in the blood is higher than normal, then there must be some relationship between the two.

Diabetes and cardiovascular system diseases have been recognized to be closely related to each other for some time now due to the so-called insulin resistance syndrome or metabolic syndrome. Among the 20 million people in the United States who have diabetes, around 5 to 6 million of this population who are aged 35 years and above were diagnosed to have a certain cardiovascular disease according to the National Diabetes Surveillance System. Some examples of the commonly diagnosed cardiovascular diseases are coronary heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and other heart conditions.

Cardiovascular diseases are the major cause now of deaths related to diabetes. In a study published a few years back in the Journal of the American Medical Association, deaths due to some heart conditions went up by 23% in diabetic women despite the 27% drop of the same in non-diabetic women. As for diabetic men, there is only about 13% decrease in heart disease related deaths as compared to the 36% drop in non-diabetics. Thus, the two indeed go together.

Risk Factors

Diabetes is now considered by the American Heart Association to be a major risk factor in cardiovascular diseases. Other factors that contribute to the possibility of acquiring cardiovascular diseases in diabetic patients include hypertension, smoking, and dyslipidemia.

- Hypertension. Hypertension in diabetes is considered a major contributor to the increase in mortality from cardiovascular diseases. Diabetic patients, especially those with Type 2, need to always have their blood pressure checked every visit to the doctor. Self-monitoring at home is also a must to maintain and control the rise of blood pressure. The American Diabetes Association recommends a target blood pressure of not more than 130/85 mm Hg to maintain a good level of blood pressure.

- Hyperglycemia. Intensive glycemic control may prove to reduce the risk of cardiovascular events, although not directly. This can be more beneficial in controlling micro vascular complications, but still, assessing all risk factors and properly managing them is a big step in preventing occurrence of any cardiovascular diseases.

- Smoking. Smoking has been determined to be dangerous to our health. Studies show that smoking indeed increases risk of premature death and cardiovascular disease in diabetic patients.


As the old saying goes, "prevention is better than cure." There are many ways to prevent the increased possibility of cardiovascular events in diabetic patients. Several alterations or modifications to the risk factors can be done to still remain healthy in spite of diabetes.

The simplest step one can start with is to stop smoking. Diabetic or not, cessation of smoking will really prove beneficial to one's overall health condition. Maintaining blood pressure to less than 130/85 or 130/80 mm Hg helps control the occurrence of hypertension. Having a body mass index (BMI) of less than 27 is also a must for diabetic patients to control their overall condition.

Some tests are also recommended to monitor and maintain key factors at a healthy level. These tests include annual urine test, retinal dilation examination, dental examinations, and biannual foot examination for sensation testing and measurement of pulses. Influenza and pnuemococcal immunizations also help in proper maintenance.

Diabetes and cardiovascular diseases need proper attention and care. Regular visits to your health practitioner are recommended as they are the right people who know all about your condition. They keep all the records of their patients' health history and can track improvements or otherwise. Proper medications and advice are also given by these professionals.

Diabetes is indeed a life-long condition that demands a lot of attention. There may be no hard and real cure for this disease, but it surely can be maintained and controlled by proper care and having thorough knowledge and understanding of the condition.