Misery loves company! And this fits to the “T” when it comes to heart patients with diabetes. As if heart diseases weren’t bad enough, in the absence of adequate care, you could also go diabetic. And while the two do a tango, life goes for a complete toss.
This isn’t a matter to be taken lightly by any stretch of the imagination. So says Dr Rituparna Shinde, Consultant & Interventional Cardiologist whose study of both these conditions show their apparent co-relation. Read on to know more.

Heart diseases leading to diabetes:

Heart diseases come in various forms including a stroke, cardiac arrest and problems related to blood vessels. The most likely form though is that of the clogging of coronary arteries that in most cases is due to a sustained & continuous build-up of plaque on the walls of the heart’s arteries. Being the main inlet for oxygen to the heart, getting clogged in any way is a cause of concern.

Imagine your arteries to be like a water pipe that you continuously squeeze (the same action as that of the build-up). It takes a lot more energy to get the water (blood, in the case of the heart) across. And when it does, the force of the passing blood roughens the arterial walls bringing about the right conditions for sustained plaque build-up, how-so-ever slow. If not controlled in time, the plaque hardens and can cause either a rupture and/ or reduce blood flows to the brain - very, very serious conditions either ways.

As for the offending plaque, in most cases, it’s an excessive build-up of fat tissues, scar tissues, cholesterol or calcium. Also responsible for the condition is the presence of excessive quantities of LDL (bad) cholesterol in one’s blood-streams or the progressive reduction of HDL (good) cholesterol which itself leaves space for LDL to form a build-up. As for cholesterol build-up, it falls squarely within the purview of diabetes which only aggravates with time.

Diabetes leading to heart disease:

Blood sugar beyond acceptable levels is said to affect the heart in multiple ways. The first, and also the most basic is atherosclerosis wherein the increasing cholesterol levels in the blood over time thickens and hardens inside the arteries that besides decreasing the blood flow, also makes the arteries brittle and more likely to result in ruptures.

The second form in which diabetes affects the heart is by way of chronic inflammation at multiple places, including the arteries. Such inflammations are in fact due to the immune systems themselves getting activated to the presence of plaque.

The third form in which diabetes affects the heart is when blood platelets thicken to form blood clots. Scar tissues that form on the heart muscles are also said to be the effect of diabetes.

Medical science has come a long way from the time they first understood the correlation between blood sugar and heart diseases. That said, there are still a few things that we ought to do (or not do) to secure our health for as long as we live. These include:

  1. More physical movements! Blood sugar is essentially energy that the body needs to keep us moving. If we move less, blood sugar gets stored as fats in the liver and isn’t consumed efficiently by the body. In time with insulin resistance building up, excess sugar causes all manner of problems. The best thing is to nip the problem in the bud by taking up moderate physical exercise which besides helping burn calories, also pushes the heart to pump blood and stay in shape.
  2. Control over diets! Our diets these days are led by our tongues! Sweet, yummy, smooth and so on. Remember if it’s sinfully delicious, it’s sinful otherwise. A once-in-a-long-while indulgence besides, one ought to take care of diets and include healthy foods including whole grains, whole fruits, legumes and lentils, all of which besides dousing a craving do so without causing a ‘rush’!
  3. Sleep! It’s now a confirmed fact that lack of sleep induces insulin resistance, the primary reason for increased blood sugar levels. It’s thus important to be rested at the right time for the right duration. Sleeping also affects the heart by bringing down the heart rate.
  4. Medication at the right time! Diabetes is said to increase with age with the only recourse being medication. It’s thus important to take the advice of medical practitioners at the right time and strictly abide by their advice.
  5. Taking up stresses! Stress affects the heart in multiple ways. Stress also affects the production of insulin. Stress management is thus of primary importance to bring down blood sugar levels, and keep the heart functioning healthily.
  6. Looking for signs and symptoms: Stress, diabetes and such lifestyle issues don’t develop in a day. They give out signals quite early which if caught on time may lead to an early redressal. It’s thus important to look for tell-tale signs and not negate them or belittle their significance. What may seem small initially may just be a warning at the right time.

For the sake of the heart, it thus makes sense to mind your tongue!

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