Diabetes and Heart Disease

by Dr. Stephen Sinatra
Filed Under: Heart Health, Blood Sugar, Cholesterol
Last Reviewed 04/17/2014

Diabetes and Heart Disease

A recent study published in the journal Diabetes Care said that the death rate of people in the U.S. with diabetes has dropped substantially. Plus, the number of people with diabetes and heart disease has dropped as well, but is still much higher than those who don’t have diabetes.

Facts About Diabetes and Heart Disease

  1. The most common heart problem that diabetes contributes to is atherosclerosis, which is hardening of the arteries. The trouble is that it usually develops silently, long before full-blown diabetes is diagnosed. That’s why I encourage everyone to make regular blood sugar testing a part of your heart health regimen to head off diabetes and heart disease.

  2. Insulin resistance can damage the heart. The reason is that when your body becomes resistant to insulin, it increases inflammation in your entire body, including your heart. So heart disease can actually start during the pre-diabetes stage known as “insulin resistance.” Again, regular blood sugar testing is your best defense.

  3. Cholesterol-lowering statin drugs can cause diabetes. For many years now, we’ve known that statin drug use can contribute to diabetes. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has started requiring statin drug makers to put a diabetes warning on their labels. So, while I do continue to recommend statins for middle-aged men with known coronary artery disease, for most people I feel they're unnecessary and potentially harmful. For more on my cholesterol recommendations, I encourage you to visit my free online Cholesterol Health Center.

  4. A low-carbohydrate diet can help to ward off diabetes and heart disease. High-glycemic foods release glucose into the bloodstream quickly, causing a rapid rise in blood sugar and a subsequent rise in insulin. Instead, I recommend the PAMM diet which includes 45 percent to 50 percent slow-burning, low-glycemic index carbohydrates; 30 percent healthy fats; and 25 percent protein.

  5. If you have a family history of diabetes (whether type 1 or type 2) or if you are overweight, you have a higher propensity for developing insulin resistance. Many with insulin resistance also have high blood pressure, low HDL cholesterol levels and high triglycerides, the typical metabolic trio of insulin resistance. So, if you are overweight or have insulin resistance, I encourage you to get your blood pressure and cholesterol checked to help avoid diabetes and heart disease.

Now it’s your turn: Do you have a question about diabetes and heart disease?

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