Diabetes and Heart Disease

Understand the Connection

Lower Your Heart Risk


You can change the course of your disease and lower your chances of developing heart-related problems in addition to diabetes. Be sure to talk with your health professional.

Here are some suggestions that may help:

❱❱ Quit smoking

  • Ask for help. 
  • Call 1-800-784-8669 (1-800-QUIT-NOW).

❱❱ Commit to regular exercise 

  • Sitting for long periods of time, not exercising — or both — are harmful. 
  • Aim for 150 minutes of activity per week (just over 20 minutes a day). 
  • Housework, brisk walking, dancing, gardening, swimming and riding a bike are all good ways to stay active. Doing 10-minute bursts of activity at a time counts — and they add up!

❱❱ Choose a heart-healthy diet 

  • Talk with your health care team about a heart-healthy eating plan that also keeps your diabetes better controlled. For example, try to choose:
    • Non-starchy vegetables and fresh fruits
    • Whole-grain foods 
    • Lean proteins
    • Low-fat milk and dairy products
    • Healthy fats (nuts, seeds, avocado and vegetable oils)
    • Foods low in sugar and simple carbohydrates
  • Make good choices when eating on the go.
  • Hold the salt.

❱❱ Maintain a healthy weight

❱❱ Know your numbers 

  • Keep track of your A1C, blood pressure and LDL-cholesterol and triglycerides, and work to keep them under control.
  • Ask about cardiovascular risk calculators.

❱❱ Lower stress and get enough sleep 

  • Aim for seven or more uninterrupted hours of shut-eye a night. 
  • If you suspect you might have sleep apnea, talk with your doctor as this also can affect your heart health. 

❱❱ Educate others

  • Most people with diabetes don’t know about the relationship between type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
  • Spread the word to empower others to take action for a healthy heart.

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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

Stop Smoking

Kicking the habit is one of the best ways to improve overall health. Learn more »

Know Your Numbers

Know and understand the key markers of heart health. Learn more »

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