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According to the American Heart Association, having diabetes can double (or even quadruple) your risk of dying from heart disease. And people 65 years or older with diabetes are at least 68% more likely to die of heart disease than the general population, and 16% more likely to die of a stroke.

A staggering 34.2 million people have diabetes (10.5% of the U.S. population).

Nationally, diabetics have 280,000 heart attacks annually and receive approximately 30% of the coronary stents implanted.

Many people think of diabetes and heart disease as two separate conditions, but they’re closely related. The most common problem is atherosclerosis—the hardening of the arteries that usually starts before full-blown diabetes is diagnosed. The accumulated plaque typical of atherosclerosis can rupture or break apart, causing blood clots and blockages that can lead to either a heart attack or a stroke.

Additionally, when the body becomes resistant to insulin, there is a corresponding increase in inflammation in the body—which, in turn, contributes to a decline in cardiovascular health. In other words, heart disease almost always starts to develop during the pre-diabetes stage known as “insulin resistance.” In fact, diabetes is one of the most significant risk factors for cardiovascular disease.[1]

Protect Your Heart When Diabetes Threatens It

The good news is that an estimated 80% of all cardiovascular cases—heart disease, heart attack, heart failure, and stroke—can be prevented.[2]

Since people with diabetes are more at risk of developing heart problems, it is especially important to focus on maintaining heart health. In addition to diet, exercise, and healthy habits, here are some key nutritional supplements that may help decrease your risk of developing heart disease:

Coenzyme Q10

CoenzymeQ10, or CoQ10, or ubiquinone, is a chemical that plays a crucial role in a cell’s ability to extract energy from food. Because the heart is the hardest working muscle in your body, it’s essential that your heart have a constant supply of CoQ10 so it has energy to do its work.

CoQ10 levels decrease with age, and statin therapy can deplete CoQ10, therefore anyone taking a statin drug should consider taking CoQ10 supplements.

Magnesium and Potassium

One study shows that taking supplements may reduce blood pressure and that they are good for overall heart function and heart disease.

Another study shows dietary intake of potassium to improve heart function as well by helping to offset the rise in blood pressure from a high-salt diet.

Hawthorn

Hawthorn improves the integrity of veins and arteries, enhancing circulation to the heart, thus improving the heart muscle function. This action makes it useful for cases of angina (chest pain), atherosclerosis (a build-up of fat on the inside of artery walls), weakness and enlargement of the heart, high and low blood pressure, and elevated cholesterol levels. Hawthorn also may help control arrhythmias and palpitations.

Beet Root

Beets are rich in natural chemicals called nitrates. Through a chain reaction, your body changes nitrates into nitric oxide, which helps with blood flow and blood pressure.

A group of scientists won the Nobel Prize in Medicine for discovering the role that nitric oxide plays in signaling our blood vessels to relax and expand. That improves blood circulation throughout our body, including to the heart, brain, and muscles.

[1] Stephen Sinatra, MD Diabetes and Heart Disease – What You Should Know.

[2] Harvard Medical School – Harvard Health Publishing.