Caring for Your Heart When You Have Diabetes

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Diabetes can affect your whole health, especially if it isn’t well-managed. It’s important to understand your condition to not only feel your best, but protect your long-term wellness.

Diabetes and heart disease often go hand in hand, but the relationship between them is complex. At the AdventHealth Diabetes Institute, we take a whole-person approach to help you learn about your condition, make healthy choices and avoid potential cardiovascular complications.

Diabetes and Blood Clots

People with diabetes often experience blood vessel changes leading to cardiovascular disease, says Richard Pratley, MD, endocrinologist, diabetes and metabolism specialist at AdventHealth. Vessel linings may become thicker, making blood flow more difficult.

With diabetes, there's a tendency for blood cells to clump, forming clots. A clot to the heart may cause a heart attack, while a clot to the brain may cause a stroke.

Protecting Your Heart

To prevent cardiovascular disease, it’s essential to prevent further damage to your heart and blood vessels. That’s why your doctor should be monitoring your cholesterol levels, blood pressure and glucose levels, says Nandkishore V. Ranadive, MD, an AdventHealth cardiologist.

You can find personalized care for your condition at the AdventHealth Diabetes Institute. Thanks in part to the generous support of community members, our patients receive education on effective prevention and treatment. These measures involve lifestyle changes including diet, exercise, stress management, and smoking cessation; medications controlling blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol; and possibly daily aspirin to ward off clots.

A Patient Success Story

In 1981, Bruce Arrow developed chronic pancreatitis (inflammation leading to permanent deterioration of the pancreas). He learned his badly damaged organ might not be able to produce enough insulin, which could lead to diabetes. Nine years later, Bruce developed the condition.

“I didn't have any symptoms or need medication,” Bruce recalled. But his health concerns were far from over. A competitive athlete, Bruce knew something was wrong when he couldn't run or play golf without experiencing shortness of breath. That's when he was diagnosed with coronary heart disease, 14 years after his diabetes diagnosis.

“Several major arteries were blocked, and I needed coronary bypass surgery,” said Bruce. He was referred to George Palmer, MD, cardiovascular surgeon at AdventHealth, who repaired six arteries.

“My whole experience at AdventHealth was amazing,” says Bruce. “Seven months later, I skied in Utah, and nine months later, I completed a race in Illinois.”

His diabetes is now under control with diet, medication and exercise. Bruce continues to be an active AdventHealth Diabetes Institute supporter, passionate about helping others receive the same education and treatment.

Heart-Healthy Tips for Diabetics

  • Ask family and friends to help you manage your diabetes; a little support goes a long way
  • Don't smoke — it’s a major risk factor for heart attack and stroke
  • Eat foods low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt and added sugars
  • Get educated about diabetes and learn how to control it by consulting your doctor
  • Get at least 30 minutes of physical activity daily
  • Reach a healthy weight; being overweight is a risk factor for heart attack and stroke
  • Take medications as directed and ask your doctor about taking daily aspirin

To learn more about the individualized diabetes care you can find right here in Central Florida, visit the AdventHealth Diabetes Institute website.

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