Coping with diabetes, heart disease

Published: November 27, 2020

Diabetes and Heart Disease

I would never forget the phone call that morning. Her voice breaking as she heard mine, my best friend woke up and met her father dead. Even from a non-medical perspective, it was clear it was a heart attack. A lover of life, he enjoyed the usual trini lime and we were both football fanatics. I fondly remember him hassling me for the semi-pro football fixtures to see our favourite Club’s home games and us bantering about game results…passionately laughing or arguing about whether our team played well or not.  

I’m not afraid of death but dead people surely do something to me! I believe that once dead my physical connection with you should immediately end. However, he died kneeling…holding his chest and my best friend asked after the DMO viewed the body to assist her in putting him on his bed and dress him. I felt sadness and fear…I felt for my friend who had just lost her second parent in a year.

He wasn’t diabetic, but was diagnosed a few years earlier as having heart problems…heart disease is serious business. He took his medication, walked for exercise, followed a stricter diet, became closer to God, listened to music to calm his soul, made occasional visits to the doctor and generally maintained a better quality of life. These steps are key to managing any ailment or disease.

Heart Disease Mortality Rates for Diabetics

The American Heart Association reports that a minimum of 66 per cent of people who suffer from diabetes will die as a result of a heart problem or a stroke. That number can be as high as 75 per cent. That’s an extraordinarily high number and the frightening statistics don’t stop there. A person with diabetes is as likely to have a heart attack as a person without diabetes who has already suffered from a heart attack. Additionally, a person with diabetes is 5 times more likely to die from a heart disease than a person without. Clearly, it is of utmost importance to be aware of these problems and to know how to combat them as best as possible.

One of the commonest causes of heart attack is diabetes mellitus, and in the majority of diabetes patients the cause of death is heart attacks. There are certain peculiarities of a heart attack in these patients, as compared to heart attacks in non-diabetic patients.

• 35 per cent of diabetic patients die due to heart problems before they reach the 55 years of age as compared to 4 to 8 per cent of general public.

• 50 per cent of diabetic patients have high blood pressure.

In obese diabetic patients, blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels are high, and these get deposited in the blood vessels which supply blood to the heart. Because of this deposition, blood supply is affected (due to narrowing of blood vessels), and can cause pain in legs while walking, which may become better by further walking. It can also cause Angina or a Heart Attack, and is seen more frequently in diabetics who drink or smoke.


Certain precautions are essential:

• Get regular sugar and cholesterol examinations and keep records.

• Control your blood pressure

• Lose weight

• Swelling of legs and feet should be reported to your doctor/specialist.

• Get chest x-rays done bi-annually or quarterly.

• Get an ECG done bi-annually or quarterly.

• If one gets discomfort in the chest while walking or after eating food, you should undergo a stress/tread mill test to evaluate your cardiac status.

All the above factors increase the risk for Strokes and Heart Attacks. Hypertension (High Blood Pressure) is associated with:

• Insulin Resistance

• Obesity, and

• Accelerated Atherosclerosis (Blockage of arteries).

Diabetic Heart Attack

It is sometimes seen in young diabetics and is usually severe. Heart attacks are generally painless (silent). Instead of pain there is discomfort in the chest, suffocation, and difficulty in breathing. All the major blood vessels of the heart are involved.

How to Cope

• Stop smoking.

• Keep blood sugar under control.

• Exercise regularly and control your weight.

• Control blood pressure.

• Do regular heart check-ups and follow the advice of your doctor/specialist.

By-Pass Surgery

Diabetes affects heart muscle and blood vessels of the heart and reduces expectancy of life. By-Pass surgery therefore could help improve the quality of life. With changes in food habits and lifestyle, persons can then lead a normal life.

The statistics don’t lie; heart disease could not be more of a serious problem for those with diabetes. The increased risk of heart problems for diabetics is something that has to be viewed critically. The sooner corrective actions are taken in your lifestyle, the more of a difference you can make.

This is the last of a four part series on Diabetes and other related diseases. It’s my hope that we are all more diabetic aware. To keep the momentum going, whether or not you are a diabetic, you can join the Diabetes Association in an area close to you. If you are diabetic or diabetes is already in your family…fight it; however, if diabetes isn’t in your family…fight to prevent it! I’ve had a number of new clients coming in afraid because of the information in this series. Don’t be afraid…be aware!

Your feet mirror your

general health . . . cherish them!

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Published November 27, 2020 by in news

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