Patients with type 2 diabetes have high chances of heart disease. This is because high blood sugar due to diabetes, can affect blood vessels and nerves of the heart. If uncontrolled, this can lead to even fatal heart problems. Diabetes may also lead to weak blood circulation to different parts of the body. It is seen that in people suffering from diabetes, the linings of the blood vessels become thicker which makes it difficult for the blood to flow through them properly. Due to the disruption in blood flow, heart attack or stroke occurs. People suffering from diabetes may also have heart failure. Heart failure is a condition when heart cannot pump blood well enough. This leads to fluid retention in certain body parts like swelling up of legs, and fluid accumulation in the lungs, making it difficult to breathe. Most of the times minor diabetic related heart problems do not present with early symptoms, but some common symptoms associated with heart diseases are shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, increased sweating, dizziness, etc.
According to Dr. Anjan Siotia, Director of Cardiology, BM Birla Heart Research Centre, Kolkata, “Diabetes does mostly two things in the body- firstly, high blood sugar level leads to more artery blockages and secondly, patients with diabetes usually have high bad cholesterol value. It is important to keep LDL (low-density lipoprotein) or bad cholesterol below 2.6mmol/L. We recommend patients with diabetes and heart diseases to regular walk and exercise and maintain strict healthy diet prescribed by doctor. Usually there is a spike in cardiovascular disease cases in winter, in people having high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, etc. Cold temperatures lead to shrinking of arteries which lead to higher cortisol levels. This instigates the heart to pump more blood to keep the body warm. This further deteriorates in patients having diabetes type 2. Diabetes can affect all parts of the body causing peripheral vascular disease, blindness, kidney problem, stroke, heart attacks, etc. In order to reduce the cardiovascular risk of a diabetic patient, maintaining good blood sugar level is not enough. They need to control their blood pressure, take cholesterol lowering medication, avoid all tobacco products and exercise regularly. It is very important for diabetic patients to undergo thorough routine check-up and get all the prescribed blood tests done on time. Additionally, they should go for annual electrocardiograms, or ECGs, which is a test meant for recording electrical activity of heart and detects abnormal heart rhythms.”
Dr. Kalyan Kumar Gangopadhyay, Consultant, Diabetes & Endocrinology, CMRI, Kolkata, further added “People with diabetes are seen to be more prone to cardiovascular complications like acute coronary syndromes, heart failure, arrhythmias or stroke. Serious heart diseases can be seen in even young people below 30 years of age who already have diabetes. Diabetes can be commonly classified into two categories- type 1 and type 2. Type 1 diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus is characterized by body’s immune system attacking the cells in pancreas, an organ which produces insulin. This leads to low or no amount of insulin. People suffering from type 2 diabetes have greater risk of heart disease. The excessive sugar presence in the blood due to diabetes, damages the blood vessels. This damage leads subsequently to blockage of the blood supply to the organs, resulting in heart attack and brain stroke or paralysis. One of the ways of knowing how blood sugar is controlled is checking glycated haemoglobin or HbA1c. This should be below 7% for most of the diabetes patients. At CMRI, we recommend our diabetes patients to undergo HbA1c test at least every 3 to 4 months to know whether the blood sugar is under good control or not. We not only treat type 1, type 2 diabetes, we also treat pregnancy induced diabetes and diabetes during pregnancy, as well. Insulin pump therapy is a newer mode of therapy wherein a small electronic device continuously delivers insulin, and the patients do not have to give painful pricks of insulin every day, but they have to give 1 prick every 72hours.”
It is advised to consult a physician regularly to keep the health well-being under monitoring. With the escalation in diabetes cases among populations, there has been a significant rise in the number of heart diseases too. Hence, Dr. Anjan Siotia & Dr. Kalyan Kumar Gangopadhyay advice to follow a healthy work-life balance together with proper diet and to keep stress at bay.