Diabetes damages the cardiovascular system by producing abnormal cholesterol and lipid levels that may speed up arteriosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. Diabetes increases the risk of developing coronary artery disease five times in women and two times in men.
In diabetics, the warning signs of heart disease may be absent or atypical, so prevention and careful screening are extremely important. Minimizing diabetes as a risk factor requires ongoing medical guidance, careful control of blood sugar levels, and elimination of other risk factors.
A hormone called insulin allows glucose (sugar) to enter the body's cells and energize the body. In type 1 diabetes, insulin production by the pancreas is reduced or ceases. To compensate, insulin injections are required. Type 2 diabetes, which is more common, involves both a deficiency of insulin and an inability of the cells to respond appropriately to the insulin that is produced.
You can prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes through a healthy lifestyle. Changing your diet, increasing your level of physical activity, and maintaining a healthy weight can help you can stay healthier longer and reduce your risk of diabetes.
For information, education, exercise program information, and support, contact the Diabetes Center at the John Muir Medical Center-Walnut Creek at (925) 941-5076.
- American Diabetes Association