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Diabetes and Heart Disease: February 18, 2011

Every 38 seconds, a person dies from heart disease. While it’s the #1 cause of death in the United States, certain chronic conditions raise the threat. “Diabetes places a person at about a 2 to 4 times increased risk for cardiovascular disease and strokes,” warns Certified Diabetes Educator, Sharon Krispinsky. Diabetics should be careful when it comes to their heart. “Heart disease, definitely. You are more at risk when you have diabetes.”

February is American Heart Month. The American Heart Association encourages everyone with diabetes to make sure their blood pressure is under control. “The condition of hypertension really accelerates any of the complications of diabetes.” Sharon and staff at Lee Memorial Health System help diabetes patients and their families adopt a plan to reduce their risk of heart trouble. “The dietitians do create a meal plan based on their likes or dislikes, what their carbohydrate requirement is. We talk to them about exercise and developing an exercise program for them that they can actually be compliant with in the long term. We talk about their medications that are specific to them so we do individualize it.”

It’s also recommended that those with diabetes see their physician every 3 to 6 months. “It’s very important that people are prescribed medication, lifestyle modification, to try and get their blood pressure under better control.”

Watching your cholesterol levels is also important. Diabetes tends to lower “good” cholesterol levels and raise the bad levels, putting these patients at a higher risk of heart disease.