Diabetes: The Heart of the Matter

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Putting your heart at the centre of your diabetes management. Here’s what you need to know.

If you have type 2 diabetes, you’re not alone. More than 3.5 million Canadians are living with type 2 diabetes, a condition that requires constant monitoring, motivation and management through medication, diet and exercise.

Diabetes overview

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, or when the body does not effectively use the insulin that is produced.

Unfortunately, those with type 2 diabetes also have a higher risk of heart disease. In fact, they’re three times more likely to be hospitalized for cardiovascular problems. Sadly, one in two people living with diabetes will die of heart disease.

The link between diabetes and heart disease can be traced to high blood glucose levels from diabetes, which can damage blood vessels and the nerves that control the heart.

“Heart attacks, strokes and heart failure are the most prevalent heart diseases among people with diabetes,” says Dr. Alice Cheng, Endocrinologist at Trillium Health Partners, Credit Valley Hospital; Associate Professor, University of Toronto.


Dr. Cheng, Endocrinologist at Trillium Health Partners


Take Heart: Managing heart health and diabetes

The good news is that with the right information, you can live well with type 2 diabetes. Make a commitment today to carefully manage your diabetes and improve your overall health – including your heart health.

Keeping blood sugar levels under control is a well-known diabetes management strategy, but Dr. Cheng notes this may not be enough to ward off heart disease. She recommends a strategy that combines active management of blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol with medications that lower blood sugar and protect the heart and kidneys. She also emphasizes that a heart-healthy diet, focused on foods such as leafy greens and whole grains, is key – along with regular exercise.

Paul Naud, who has type 2 diabetes, has been practicing this consistently. “It’s not always easy,” says Naud. “But my doctor told me that by losing weight and changing to a healthier lifestyle, I regained more than 10 years of my life. I want to hang onto that.”

Paul Naud


Heart of the matter?

If you have type 2 diabetes, you can take important steps to protect your heart health. Speak with your doctor about type 2 diabetes treatments and lifestyle strategies that will help you live well while managing your condition.

Visit www.myheartmatters.ca to learn more.