Diabetes and hardening of blood vessels

HAVE A HEART!

What is Atherosclerosis?

Atherosclerosis is often referred to as “hardening of the arteries.”

  • It is a build up of cholesterol and other fat substances within the walls of the arteries.
  • It is a progressive disease and can develop in any artery in the body.
  • A gradual build up of fatty deposits (cholesterol and fat), called plaque, that occurs on the inside of the lining of the artery wall causing the opening to narrow. These deposits usually develop over many years.
  • Narrowing of the arteries by 70% or more decreases the blood flow through the artery and may prevent body tissues and organs from receiving an adequate blood supply. This lack of blood flow decreases the amount of oxygen being delivered to the tissues and organs resulting in symptoms such as aching or pain in the chest (angina) or cramping in the legs.

Permanent damage to body tissues and organs can occur if the blood and oxygen supply disruption is prolonged or very severe. Permanent damage results in the death of that area being supplied and is referred to as an infarction.

Diabetes and Atherosclerosis.

If you have diabetes, you have a major risk factor for getting atherosclerosis. Not only do the arteries get affected earlier, but the rate at which the disease progresses is much faster in people who have diabetes.

Use Glucometer to check your blood sugar at home regularly

Coronary and cerebral artery disease is 2-4 times as common in a person with diabetes and whilst vascular blocks in the legs (peripheral vascular disease) is 4-6 times more common.

The prevalence of atherosclerosis is increased manifold in people with diabetes, occurs earlier in life, progresses faster to the more sever forms and is associated with an increased chance of death from these complications.

Not only is diabetes itself a major factor in causing damage to the endothelium, people with diabetes have other risk factors which themselves can damage the inner linings of the arteries. In the presence of high blood glucose levels, the potential of these other risk factors to cause atherosclerosis is increased manifold.

Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Disease in Patients with Diabetes
Modifiable major risk factorsa) Uncontrolled and high blood glucose levels;b) High blood pressure;c) High cholesterol levels, especially the “bad” LDL-cholesterol levels which are above 100mg%;d) Low levels of the “good” HDL-cholesterol( below 45mg%)e) High levels of triglycerides in the blood ( more than 150mg%)f) Obesity, especially “central”obesity with a high waist-hip ratio.

g) Sedentary lifestyle with little or no exercise;

h) Presence of kidney disease as judged by albumin in the urine;

i) Raised levels of insulin in the blood;

j) Smoking, or the use of tobacco in any form;

Predisposing risk factors

a) Genetic factors ( family history );

b) Age of the patient;

c) Duration of diabetes;

You can check body fat at home, yourself

But what one can do is to see that the additional burden placed by the presence of diabetes is decreased significantly.

As we have seen above, a person with diabetes is definitely more prone to atherosclerosis. Not only that, but the damage to the arteries occurs earlier, progresses faster and is seen in a much more severe form.

It is in this area that one can, and must, do all that is possible.

But modifying many of the other risk factors is in your hands!

It is obvious that a good control of the blood glucose level, normalizing the blood pressure and the levels of “fats” found in the blood can go a long way to decrease the severity of atherosclerosis. Your doctor can keep telling you to exercise and lose weight especially if you have a large waist line, but your doctor cannot “exercise” for you!

You can check your physical activity by using step counter

Many of these aspects are covered in more detail in other sections of the booklet. But there is one area which is of utmost importance. Smoking and tobacco in any form MUST be avoided.

As a joke goes,” Smoke….make a Cardiologist happy!”

You can check your blood pressure at home, yourself

So there are many ways by which you can prevent the damage caused by diabetes to your arteries.

Your doctor will advise you about all this, but finally, it is up to you!

Is there a treatment for atherosclerosis?

Inspite of the tremendous strides have taken place in treating atherosclerosis, especially in the surgical procedures such as angioplasty and bypass surgeries, and the routine use of aspirin as a blood thinner, diet and lifestyle modification still remain the mainstay of treatment.

But then it is the very same diet and lifestyle modification which may have prevented the problem in the very first place! Whilst, these are still important, one cannot help feeling that carrying out these changes in one’s diet and lifestyle, after one’s arteries have been seriously damaged, is like going out to buy the most expensive lock after everything in one’s house has been stolen!

Courtesy : http://www.diabetesindia.com/diabetes/have_heart.htm

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About Anuj Agarwal

I am a professional with varied working experience of more than 18 years in India, USA and Middle East. My areas of work and interest are Information Technology, Corporate Social Responsibility, Health and Wellness. Please feel free to contact me through the blog or write me at agarwalanuj@yahoo.com
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One Response to Diabetes and hardening of blood vessels

  1. Pingback: Diabetes and hardening of blood vessels « healthsewak.com

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