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Living With Diabetes? Save Your Heart!

Author: Hope Warshaw, M.S., R.D.
Source: Heart-Healthy Living, Summer 2007

Take control of your diabetes and cut your risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke in half.

People who have diabetes are more likely to have a heart attack or stroke than they are to lose a limb. Despite that fact, 60 percent of those with diabetes don’t consider cardiovascular disease a serious complication, according to a survey conducted by the American Diabetes Association and the American College of Cardiology. Nor do they feel they’re at risk for high blood pressure or cholesterol problems.

The good news is that if you’re working to control your diabetes, you’re already on the right track. You can take the same steps to keep your heart healthy. People with type 1 diabetes who maintained tight glucose control were 42 percent less likely to have cardiovascular disease and 57 percent less likely to experience a heart attack or stroke, according to a 10-year study.

“Just having diabetes multiplies the risk for heart disease sixfold and stroke fourfold,” says Francine Kaufman, M.D., head of the Center for Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and author of Diabesity: The Obesity-Diabetes Epidemic That Threatens America (Bantam Books). “When you have diabetes, your risk of a heart attack is as high as it is for a person without diabetes who’s had a heart attack.”