Cardiovascular Disease Screening and Management
You've probably heard that people with diabetes are at risk for multiple health complications,
including cardiovascular disease. As it turns out, cardiovascular disease is especially
common among people with diabetes: The majority of people with type 2 diabetes will
eventually develop it.
Although most people have heard of cardiovascular disease, few understand exactly
what it involves. Healthcare providers use the term "cardiovascular disease" to describe
many conditions that affect blood circulation in the body:
Heart disease happens when blood circulating to the heart is slowed or stopped because
of a blocked artery. Heart disease can result in chest pain, a heart attack, or even
Heart failure happens when the heart loses its ability to pump blood as it should.
Heart failure can be caused by a number of factors. These include damage to the heart
or blocked arteries.
Stroke happens when blood flow to the brain is blocked. This is the most common type
often because of a blood clot or blockages within arteries.
Peripheral arterial disease consists of blockages in the arteries to the legs and
What causes cardiovascular disease?
Most people think of obesity when they think of cardiovascular disease, but another
strong risk factor is age. Your risk of developing cardiovascular disease goes up
at age 40, but is highest after age 70.
People with diabetes are 2 to 4 times more likely than others to develop cardiovascular
disease. Because this risk is so high, cardiovascular disease remains the most common
cause of death in people with diabetes.
Seek medical attention if:
You have chest discomfort when you walk or exercise.
You have chest pain along with tiredness (fatigue) or shortness of breath.
Your resting heart rate is usually faster than 100 beats per minute.
You are a young man with erectile dysfunction.
How is cardiovascular disease detected?
If your healthcare providers suspect cardiovascular disease, they will first look
to your family health history for more information. Did your mother, father, brothers,
or sisters have heart trouble? Your risk of developing cardiovascular disease is higher
if you have family members with the disease. Other risk factors include bad cholesterol,
obesity, and diabetes.
Healthcare providers use a variety of tests to detect cardiovascular disease. A routine
blood test can show whether you have high levels of c-reactive protein. This is a
marker that you’re at higher risk. An electrocardiogram (ECG) will show whether your
heart’s electrical activity is normal. If it's not, a stress test on a treadmill,
for example, will give more information that may lead to diagnosis. If you are not
able to walk on a treadmill, your healthcare provider may "stress" your heart by injecting
medicine through an IV. This medicine can cause the heart to beat fast and imitate
the stress of exercise. Some people will be asked to have an echocardiogram. This
makes pictures of the heart to show how well the muscles of the heart can squeeze
and pump blood.
Protect your heart!
If your risk of developing cardiovascular disease is high, now is the time for action.
You can reduce your risk, starting today, by making the following lifestyle changes.
Ask your healthcare provider to help you:
Eat a healthy, balanced diet
Control your blood pressure
Improve your cholesterol
Find out if using aspirin therapy would help you
Set an appropriate HbA1C goal with your healthcare provider and work toward that goal