Chapter 1: You Can Live Well With Diabetes!
Over time, diabetes can lead to cardiovascular (heart and blood vessel)
disease, including heart attack and stroke. People with long-term very
high blood glucose are especially at risk. High blood pressure and high
cholesterol are conditions that also increase your risk of artery damage.
The risk is even greater when combined with high blood glucose.
High blood pressure also raises your risk for eye problems and kidney
disease. High blood pressure makes your heart work harder than it should.
Your cholesterol numbers tell you about the amount of cholesterol, a
fat-like substance, in your blood. Some kinds, like HDL cholesterol, help
protect your heart. Others, like LDL cholesterol, can clog your arteries. High
triglycerides raise your risk for a heart attack or a stroke.
Diabetes Damages Artery Walls
Elevated levels of glucose in the blood affects the lining of artery walls.
(An artery is a type of blood vessel. A vein is another type.) Arteries carry
blood from the heart to the rest of the body. When arteries are healthy,
the lining is smooth. But when you have diabetes, the artery lining
becomes damaged over time by high blood glucose, high blood pressure,
and cholesterol. This allows the buildup of plaque (fatty materials, such as
cholesterol) in the arteries. Cigarette smoking can also damage the artery
lining. People with diabetes who smoke have a higher risk for that damage
than those who do not.
When the lining is
smooth, blood flows
Over time, high blood
glucose damages the
Plaque builds up in the
artery walls, making it
hard for blood to get
How Heart Attack and Stroke Happen
The buildup of plaque narrows arteries. This means that any blockage,
such as a blood clot, can cut off blood flow. When this happens, heart
attack or stroke can occur. Many people with diabetes need to control their
blood pressure and/or cholesterol. By not smoking and controlling your
blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol, you can help reduce the
risk of these problems.
If you smoke, quitting smoking is one of the most important changes you
can make for your health. Talk with your health care provider about ways
to stop smoking. Together, you can make a plan to quit. Quitting may be
hard and take some time. But, the potential health benefits are worth it.