Diabetes is a serious chronic health condition that affects the body’s ability to produce enough insulin, or use it as well as it should, in managing the amount of glucose (sugar) that’s released into the blood stream when the body breaks down food that’s consumed to convert it into energy.1
Having too much sugar stay in the blood stream over time can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, and other serious health complications. Diabetes may also increase the risk of heart disease because high blood glucose levels increase the risk of angina and stroke.
Diabetes Increased 115% Amongst U.S. Adults, From 2000-2020
Diabetes now affects roughly 38 million people in The United States. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form accounting for 90-95% of all cases.2 With type 2 diabetes, the body has trouble using the insulin that it’s making causing blood sugar levels to be higher than normal.
About 38 Million People Have Diabetes
That’s About 1 in Every 10 People
1 in 5 People Don’t Know They Have It
Certain Racial Groups Are At Higher Risk
Racial and ethnic minorities are disproportionately affected with higher prevalence of diabetes compared to non-minority individuals.3 While US adults overall have a 40% chance of developing type 2 diabetes, the chances for Hispanic/Latino adults are more than 50%.4
African Americans are also much more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes compared to White Americans. Asians have increased risk of diabetes as diabetes can develop at lower BMI due to differences in visceral fat compared to other races.
For Asians, diabetes can develop at a younger age and lower body fat compared to other groups. Additionally, diabetes is highly underreported in Asian American people, as 1 in 3 cases are diagnosed compared to the average 1 in 5 for the nation.5
If I Don’t Feel Bad Should I Still Worry?
Type 2 diabetes develops over many years and frequently goes on for a long time without being noticed. Symptoms in their earlier stages are hard to spot, if at all. It is common for adults not to be diagnosed with the condition until they’re in their mid-40’s.
If you have diabetes, you’re twice as likely to have heart disease or a stroke than someone who doesn’t have diabetes — and at a younger age. The longer you have diabetes, the more likely you are to have heart disease.6
- 34% are prediabetic
- 207K have diabetes, but don’t know it yet
- 6% diagnosed diabetic
- #1 Cause of Death: Heart Disease
- #8 Cause of Death: Diabetes
How Does Diabetes Affect the Heart?
Having high levels of blood sugar can cause changes that lead to a hardening of the blood vessels, which is a condition referred to as atherosclerosis7 — or a buildup of fatty deposits, called plaque, inside the artery walls. Plaque is made up of cholesterol deposits. Arteries are the blood vessels that carry oxygenated blood away from the heart to other places throughout the body.
When plaque accumulates in the blood vessels that supply oxygen and blood to the heart – it can result in coronary heart disease. If left untreated, it can trigger a heart attack and be fatal. If the arteries responsible for delivering blood to the brain are impacted, it can cause a stroke.
Hardening of the arteries can manifest as symptoms in other parts of the body too. In the legs and feet, it’s called peripheral arterial disease, or PAD. PAD is often the first sign that a person with diabetes has cardiovascular disease.
Early Intervention and Preventive Steps Can Lessen Risk
At Cooper and Inspira Cardiac Care, we study the risks for heart disease over a person’s lifetime to manage to better outcomes. Our goal is to intervene before a condition develops that can lead to a greater risk of heart disease.
To determine whether someone is at a higher risk, we consider many factors: weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, lifestyle behaviors and environmental factors, and known family history of cardiac disease. We also get a baseline A1C test for diabetes which measures the average amount of glucose in the blood over the last 2-3 months.
While you can’t change your age, gender, ethnicity, or genetic profile, there are things that can be modified to directly decrease the risk of diabetes and cardiac disease.
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Staying physically active
- Eating a healthier organic based diet
- Avoid smoking, vaping and nicotine products
- Drinking less alcohol on any frequent basis
- Lowering and controlling cholesterol levels
- Managing stress and getting plenty of sleep
Meet with a cardiac specialist today to understand what your unique path to heart healthiness looks like.
Call to schedule your appointment today.
- CDC, What is Diabetes? Review Date: September 5, 2023: https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/diabetes.html
- CDC, A Report Card: Diabetes in the United States: https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/library/socialmedia/infographics/diabetes.html
- NIH, National Library of Medicine, Race/Ethnic Difference in Diabetes and Diabetic Complications: December 13, 2013: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3830901/
- CDC, Hispanic or Latino People and Type 2 Diabetes. Review Date: June 20, 2022: https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/library/features/hispanic-diabetes.html
- CDC, Diabetes and Asian American People. Review Date: Nov 21, 2022: https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/library/spotlights/diabetes-asian-americans.html
- CDC, Diabetes and Your Heart. Review Date: June 20, 2022: https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/library/features/diabetes-and-heart.html
- WebMD, Atherosclerosis: Symptoms, Causes and Prevention, Nov 7, 2023: https://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/what-is-atherosclerosis