Diabetes and Heart Disease

Understand the Connection

Diabetes Affects Heart Health


Because diabetes and heart disease are linked, treatment plans for diabetes shouldn't focus only on controlling blood sugar levels. Treatment must address other cardiovascular risk factors, too. This approach might include:

  • Ongoing assessment of cardiovascular health (for example, watching cholesterol panels, blood pressure or protein in the urine) 
  • Steps to help protect your heart health with lifestyle changes (for example regular exercise, heart-healthy diet, good sleep habits) and possibly medications to help control high blood pressure or cholesterol
  • Referrals to other providers to support a coordinated, team-based approach to your care
  • Routine vaccination against the flu and pneumonia to prevent illnesses that can stress the heart

Do You Have Heart Disease?

If you have heart disease but haven’t been screened for type 2 diabetes, ask to be tested. Many people with heart disease also have diabetes, but they often remain undiagnosed.

The sooner you know, the sooner you can take steps to lower your risk. Many people have prediabetes, an early warning sign for diabetes. At this stage, they can make changes to help prevent the onset of the disease.  

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Published: July 2018
Medical Reviewers: John Bucheit, PharmD, BCACP, CDE; Deborah Croy, DNP, RN, ANP-BC, AACC
CardioSmart Editor-in-Chief: Martha Gulati, MD, MS, FACC, FAHA, FASPC

Infographic: Diabetes and Heart Disease Risk

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