What is Diabetes and How Does it Impact Your Heart?

Diabetes is a chronic condition that affects your body’s ability to process food. Much of the food you consume is turned into glucose (sugar) and released into the bloodstream. Your pancreas then releases insulin, which allows the sugar to enter your body’s cells to be used as energy.  If you have diabetes, your body is either unable to produce insulin, or it can't use it properly. As a result, too much sugar stays in your blood stream, which can lead to heart disease. There are three types of diabetes:

  • Type 1 diabetes Is when your body stops producing insulin. According to the Mayo Clinic, it is thought to be caused by an autoimmune reaction. Approximately 5-10% of people with diabetes have Type 1. People with Type 1 diabetes need to take insulin every day to survive. Currently, there is no way to prevent Type 1 diabetes.
  • Type 2 diabetes is when your body doesn’t use insulin properly and can’t keep your blood sugar at a normal level. Type 2 diabetes may be prevented or delayed by eating healthy and exercising.
  • Gestational diabetes develops in pregnant women and typically goes away after childbirth. Gestational diabetes may increase your risk or your child’s risk of developing Type 2 diabetes later in life.

Common symptoms of diabetes include:

  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination (bed-wetting may occur in children who have already been toilet trained)
  • Rapid and unexplained weight loss
  • Weakness or Fatigue

With Type 1 diabetes, these symptoms may develop quickly and become severe. In Type 2 diabetes, the symptoms are similar but may develop more slowly and over time. Many women with gestational diabetes do not experience symptoms. Gestational diabetes is usually diagnosed through routine blood work during pregnancy. 

According to the CDC if you have diabetes, you’re twice as likely to have heart disease or a stroke than someone who doesn’t have diabetes. Over time, high blood sugar can damage blood vessels and nerves to the heart. People with diabetes commonly have high blood pressure, high LDL (bad) cholesterol and high triglycerides. Furthermore, diabetics are more likely to have heart failure, a condition where the heart doesn't pump enough blood to meet the body's needs. 

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