When you have diabetes, you are at high risk for getting coronary heart disease, known as CHD. In fact, diabetes is considered a CHD risk equivalent. This means that if you have diabetes, you face the same risk for heart attack, stroke and death within the next 10 years as someone who has CHD.
You are also two to four times more likely to develop CHD or suffer a stroke than people who don't have diabetes. Heart disease or stroke is the cause of death in 65 percent of those who die from diabetes-related conditions. In addition, people who have diabetes and who have a heart attack are more likely to die.
All of these facts combined make early recognition and treatment essential. That means monitoring your blood pressure and cholesterol and reporting any signs of heart disease. Early signs of heart disease include chest pain, shortness of breath and extreme tiredness. Talk with your doctor to learn more.
Here's why having diabetes increases your risk for heart disease and stroke. High amounts of glucose in the blood damage your blood vessels over time. For people with type 2 diabetes, high levels of insulin in the blood may also cause damage.
This blood vessel damage can lead to other problems, such as hardening of the arteries, known as atherosclerosis. This occurs due to buildups of fatty deposits, called plaque, inside your arteries. Plaque narrows your arteries and reduces the blood flow to your heart and brain.
If plaque deposits become too large or a blood clot forms, they can totally block blood flow. If this blockage is in the vessels of your heart, it can cause a heart attack. If this blockage is in the vessels leading to your brain, it can cause you to have a stroke.