Tuesday, February 09, 2010According to the American Heart Association, women and men with diabetes are two to four times more likely to develop heart disease than adults without diabetes.
What is Diabetes and how does it lead to Heart Disease?
Diabetes is a metabolic disorder where the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin to replenish the body’s cells with glucose (the body’s primary fuel source). Diabetes can promote vasoconstriction, or narrowing of the blood vessels, oftentimes resulting in hardening of the arteries; a condition known as atherosclerosis
. According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), a diagnosis of diabetes presents the same risks as someone who has already experienced a stroke or heart attack. The ADA also states that diabetics over the age of 65 are more likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease (CVD) than non-diabetic adults.
Diabetics should be aware of the following health factors, as they could significantly reduce their risk of developing CVD or heart disease:
- Hormonal Imbalance – During and after menopause, women are at the greatest risk of developing heart disease and CVD. This is oftentimes the result of high cholesterol, brought on by an estrogen deficiency. Fortunately, women can balance hormones and significantly reduce cholesterol levels in the blood, using bioidentical hormones.
- Obesity – Obesity is defined by the Mayo Clinic as “having an excessive amount of body fat,” and warns that it can increase one’s risk of diabetes and high blood pressure (hypertension). It is estimated that 30% of Americans are considered obese. As obesity soars out of control, the rate of diabetes and CVD rises dramatically as well. Exercise and nutrition are the key to disease prevention.
- Smoking – Smoking is the number one cause of CVD in American women and men. Smoking causes plaque to buildup along the arterial walls and constricts blood flow, leading to a variety of conditions such as atherosclerosis. Cigarettes also contain nearly 4,000 different toxic substances that have been linked to various cancers and other morbidities.
- High cholesterol – Cholesterol is another prime cause for atherosclerosis. LDL cholesterol or “bad cholesterol” and triglycerides can cause arterial blockage and increase the risk for stroke and heart attack. However, not all cholesterol is bad for you. HDL or “good cholesterol” helps the body unclog blood vessels and actually can protect against heart disease and CVD. High cholesterol levels in conjunction with high blood pressure, often leads to a set of morbibities classified as "syndrome X" or metabolic syndrome.