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Heart disease and diabetes

People with diabetes are more likely to develop cardiovascular disease - such as heart disease and strokes - than those who don't have diabetes.

If blood glucose levels are not well managed the walls of arteries that carry blood around the body are more likely to develop fatty deposits. This is called atherosclerosis and narrows the arteries impeding the flow of blood to organs around the body.

This process, and the damage it causes, can begin long before diabetes has been diagnosed.

If bits of these deposits break off, blood clots can form and blood vessels can be blocked, causing heart attacks, stroke or painful peripheral vascular disease.

Heart failure is also more likely with diabetes. This means the heart cannot pump blood efficiently.

Preventing heart disease with diabetes

You can help prevent heart disease with diabetes with steps that include:

  • Keeping diabetes well managed, taking medication as advised
  • Keeping blood pressure under control
  • Managing cholesterol
  • Losing weight if you are overweight, even losing modest amounts of weight can have a beneficial effect
  • Taking regular exercise
  • Eating healthily and limiting consumption of 'bad' fats and salt
  • Quitting smoking
  • Attending routine check-ups for diabetes and blood pressure
  • Reporting problems like chest pain, loss of sensation and weakness.


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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on September 22, 2016

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