For Heart Event Survivors

Diabetes and Heart Disease

People with diabetes are at a higher risk of heart disease.

Heart disease can happen to anyone, but for people with diabetes, the risk is greater. In fact, cardiovascular disease occurs in people with diabetes more than twice as often as in people without diabetes.

What's the connection?

Diabetes, even when well-controlled, raises the risk of heart disease in people of all ages, says the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK.) People with diabetes are also:

  • More likely to develop heart disease or strokes at a younger age than non-diabetics.
  • Have the same risk of a first heart attack, some studies suggest, if you are a middle-aged (and have type 2 diabetes) as a non-diabetic who has already had a heart attack.
  • Run a much higher risk of a second attack than people who don't have diabetes.

Manage your diabetes, help your heart.

Even in light of the statistics, having diabetes does not automatically mean you will get heart disease. The American Heart Association considers diabetes to be one of the seven major controllable risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

The NIDDK advises these steps to keep your blood vessels healthy:

  • Eat a heart-healthy diet high in fiber, low in saturated and trans fat and under 300 milligrams a day in dietary cholesterol from eggs, meat or dairy.
  • Aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity per day. Be sure to talk to a doctor before beginning an exercise routine.
  • Get your weight into a normal range and keep it there.
  • If you smoke, quit.

Make sure to see your doctor for regular checkups and ask questions, including how you can reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.

"I was unaware that the initial symptoms I was experiencing were a heart attack."
Betsy A., I am ProHeart Community Member