Diabetes and Heart

What is diabetes?

Diabetes mellitus is a disease that affects how our body uses blood sugar (glucose). Glucose is the important source of energy for the muscles and tissues in the body. It is also the primary source of energy for the brain.

In diabetes, blood sugar levels increase above the normal level. High blood sugar levels can lead to several serious health problems. The cause of high blood sugar depends on the types of the diabetes. There are mainly two types of chronic diabetes; Type 1diabetes and Type 2 diabetes.


In type 1 diabetes our body cannot produce enough insulin. Insulin is the hormone secreted by the beta cells of pancreas. Insulin helps blood glucose enter in to the cell of the body. In absence of insulin, blood sugar cannot enter in to the cells thus level of sugar in blood increases and cells are deprived of glucose.


In Type 2 diabetes, pancreas does produce the insulin but cells of the body become resistance to insulin due to various reasons. Due to insulin resistance cells cannot utilize the blood glucose effectively, leading to increase in blood sugar.


There are other types of diabetes also including pre diabetes and gestational diabetes. Prediabetes is the condition where blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be classified as diabetes. Prediabetes can progress in to type 2 diabetes unless proper lifestyle modification measures are taken.


Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy and often resolves after the birth of the baby. Person with gestational diabetes has the high risk of developing type 2 diabetes in future.


Diagnosis of prediabetes:

Prediabetes is diagnosed if fasting blood sugar is between 100 mg/dl to 125 mg/dl.

OGTT(oral glucose tolerance test) is blood sugar 2 hours after taking glucose orally, if it is between 140 mg/dl to 199 mg/dl, it is considered as prediabetes

HbA1c is the average blood sugar of past 3 months. HbA1c level between 5.7% and 6.4% is considered as prediabetes.


Diagnosis of diabetes: Diabetes is diagnosed is if fasting blood sugar is greater than or equal to 126 mg/dl or OGTT 2 hour after taking glucose if blood sugar is greater than or equal to 200 mg/dl

HbA1c more than 6.5% is considered as diabetes.


Symptoms of Diabetes:

Diabetes can remain symptomless in some patients and in some patients it can cause several symptoms like increased thirst, frequent urination, extreme hunger, weight loss, fatigue, blurred vision and slow healing wounds.


Complications of diabetes:

High blood sugar levels over several years causes damage to blood vessels and nerves which leads to several complications such as heart disease, stroke, nerve damage (neuropathy), kidney damage (nephropathy), eye damage (retinopathy), eye damage (retinopathy), foot damage etc.


Diabetes and Heart Disease:

The term “heart disease” includes several kinds of problems that affect the heart.


Coronary artery disease is the most common and fatal complication of diabetes. It is caused by the build-up of plaque in the walls of the arteries reducing the blood and oxygen supply to the heart muscles, this process is called atherosclerosis. Decreased blood flow to the heart can cause angina (chest pain) and it could also lead to a heart attack.


Diabetic Cardiomyopathy:

Other complication of diabetes is cardiomyopathy. In Diabetic cardiomyopathy, muscles of left ventricle (pumping chamber) of the heart become hypertrophic (enlarged) leading to poor contraction and relaxation of the left ventricle affecting the blood supply to whole body.


How to prevent and control diabetes and its complications?

Diabetes is known as lifestyle disease. With proper lifestyle modification we can prevent diabetes and its complications.  Lifestyle modification includes healthy diet, exercise, stress management and stopping of smoking and alcohol consumption.




Diet plays a major role in controlling diabetes and its complications. Diet should be plant based and free from animal products.

Stop consumption of sugar and jaggery completely, you can use dates as sweetener.


Fruits and vegetables: Eat lots of fresh and seasonal fruits and vegetables.

Fruits and vegetables are excellent source of Vitamins, anti-oxidants and fibres.

Avoid too much of sugary fruits and avoid fruit juices.


Fats: Avoid consumption of saturated and trans-fats. Reduce consumption of oil and butter as much as possible. Avoid any kind of fried food. Eat nuts and seeds such as almonds and flax seeds for healthy omega 3 fatty acid.


Bakery: Avoid refined and processed foods; avoid white flour, bakery item such as bread, biscuits and cakes.


Plant proteins: Beans and pulses are the rich source of healthy protein. Eat sprouts at least 3 to 4 times a week.


Water: Drink plenty of water, at least 2 to 3 litters per day. If you have heart condition then drinks water as per your doctor’s advice. Completely stop drinking Aerated drinks and sugary drinks.



Exercise: Exercise plays a major role in sugar metabolism. Moderate intensity aerobic exercise for 30 mins daily for 5 days per week is recommended. Strength training exercise and practice of Yoga are also very helpful in diabetes. If you are a heart patient then consult your doctor before starting any form of exercise.


Smoking and Alcohol: Quit smoking and alcohol consumption as it leads to several complications.


Stress Management: Try to manage your stress levels, learn time management, cultivate some hobbies, spend quality time with your family and friends, spend time with nature and practice Yoga and meditation.


Above article is just for information and please consult your doctor before following any information or advice given in above article.