Heart Smart Living
Heart Smart Living

Cardiologist, author, and heart health expert Dr. Sarah Samaan offers advice on how to live a heart smart life.

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Diabetes and Your Heart Health

When we talk about diabetes, we’re not just talking about sugar. Heart disease and stroke are far and away the leading causes of mortality for diabetics, accounting for 65 percent of deaths. Put another way, diabetics have somewhere between two and four times the risk of heart disease and stoke as non-diabetics, and their disease tend to happen earlier in life. If a heart attack or stroke is not fatal, it often causes serious disability, raises healthcare costs, and contributes to general misery for the diabetic and his or her family.  Diabetes is also a major contributor to kidney failure, blindness, and loss of limbs.

Most diabetics in this country are Type 2, otherwise known as adult onset.  A 2007 report from the New England Journal of Medicine attributed as many as 90 percent of cases of diabetes to overweight and obesity.

In January 2011, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued its latest estimates concerning diabetes in the United States. It is not an overstatement to say that the news is absolutely dreadful. Currently, about 26 million Americans are diabetic, and that is just the tip of the iceberg. Another 79 million of us are considered to be prediabetic, meaning that the blood sugar is elevated above normal, but not quite high enough to meet the definition for diabetes. Many of those people will eventually convert to full-fledged diabetes. Nearly two million new cases of diabetes were diagnosed last year alone.

The financial burden of diabetes is huge. For an individual, health care costs are nearly two and a half times that of a non-diabetic. And for our country as a whole, diabetes costs over $174 billion each year, much of which is borne by the taxpaying public.

What can you do to prevent diabetes? The most important thing is to keep a healthy weight. Exercise at least 30 minutes three days per week (five days is even better), follow a Mediterranean diet, and avoid fast foods and processed foods. While genetics and old age sometimes get the better of us, there is no doubt that most cases of diabetes are preventable. 

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Tags: Diet and Heart Health , Risk Factors for Heart Disease , Weight and Heart Health

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About the Author


Dr. Samaan is an acclaimed cardiologist, writer, and heart health educator.