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If you have diabetes, do you also have heart disease?

Bookmark and Share As surprising as it may be, people who are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes are essentially diagnosed with heart disease as well. That's because high blood glucose levels are known to damage large blood vessels. It's also known that diabetes is linked with high blood pressure and cholesterol problems. All of these lead to an increased risk for heart disease. And the risks are startling. In fact, heart disease is the leading cause of diabetes-related deaths. Virtua Health endocrinologist, Jonathan Anolik, MD, explains: "Some studies show that people with diabetes have an equal risk of dying from a heart attack as a person without diabetes who has already had one heart attack." The key to reducing risk factors is controlling them from the start. "Managing both diabetes and heart disease involves maintaining a healthy diet, exercising daily and taking diabetes medication to manage insulin levels," states Dr. Anolik. "In addition, people with diabetes may take a 'cocktail' of other medications that helps them control cholesterol and blood pressure. These medications may include aspirin, which thins the blood making it less likely to clot; statins, which help lower the amount of cholesterol the body makes; and ACE inhibitors. In addition to lowering blood pressure, ACE inhibitors reduce the risk of kidney damage caused by diabetes. They also stabilize plaque in blood vessels, which helps prevent heart attacks and strokes," he adds. For the many people who are concerned about relying on medication to maintain health, Dr. Anolik offers reassurance: "Taking medication doesn't mean that you're failing to manage your diabetes with diet and exercise; it may be the only way you can achieve healthy blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol goals." Each year, more than 5,000 people turn to Virtua for diabetes care, education, nutrition counseling and support. For more information on Virtua's diabetes programs, call 1-888-Virtua-3.