Diabetes: Risk of Heart & Stroke

Didyou know that people with diabetes develop heart disease up to 15 years earlier than people without it? Well, the good news is you can do something about it. So let’s get started and help out your heart!

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Diabetes and you

Did you know that many Pharmacists at Walmart are also Certified Diabetes Educators (CDEs) and can help you manage your diabetes?

The Pharmacist at Walmart has 3 great ways to offer you more information about diabetes.

  1. Visit the pharmacist at your convenience for a personalized diabetes consultation and medication review.
  2. Learn more by reading articles like this one in our Thinking Healthy/Diabetes centre.
Of course, if you have any other health-related questions, the Pharmacist at Walmart is happy to help.

Diabetes and yourheart

Not only do people with diabetes tend to develop heart disease earlier than people without diabetes, but their chances developing heart disease or having a stroke are 2 to 4 times greater.
In addition to the diabetes itself, people with diabetes (particularly type 2) tend to have other factors that also increase the risk of heart disease and stroke, such as:
  • High blood sugar
  • High blood pressure
  • Unhealthy cholesterol levels
  • High triglycerides
  • Being overweight
  • Low physical activity levels

Those are some harsh statistics... and who wants to be a statistic?


What’s the link?

Coronary artery disease, sometimes called hardening of the arteries, is caused by narrowing or blockage of the blood vessels in your heart. It is the most common form of heart disease in diabetes.

Your blood carries oxygen and other needed materials to your heart and brain. If the blood vessels in your heart become blocked, this can cause a heart attack. If the arteries that supply the brain are blocked, this can cause a stroke.

Over time, high blood sugar levels can increase fatty deposits on the insides of the blood vessel walls which, in turn, harden and narrow.

The majority (65% to 80%) of people with diabetes will die from heart disease. Compared to people without diabetes, people with diabetes (especially women) are at higher risk of developing heart disease, and at an earlier age. A high proportion of deaths occur in patients with no prior signs or symptoms of cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Warning signs

Signs of heart attack
During a heart attack (also called a myocardial infarction, or MI), you may have:
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Pain or discomfort in your arms, back, jaw, neck, or stomach
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Light-headedness

But you may have no warning signs at all. In people with diabetes, almost one-third of myocardial infarctions occur without recognized or typical symptoms. They’re called silent MIs.

Signs of stroke
The following signs may mean that you have had a stroke:
  • Sudden weakness or numbness of your face, arm, or leg on one side of your body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble talking, or trouble understanding
  • Sudden dizziness, loss of balance, or trouble walking
  • Sudden trouble seeing out of one or both eyes or sudden double vision
  • Sudden severe headache

If you have symptoms of a heart attack or stroke, call 911 right away.


Helping out your heart

Even if you are at high risk for heart disease and stroke, you can help keep your heart and blood vessels healthy.

Increasing physical activity, eating a ‘heart healthy’ diet and taking any medicines prescribed by your health care provider can help you prevent or control many risk factors. (e.g., your blood pressure, blood glucose, cholesterol and your weight, and reduce stress).
Failure to take the medications you’ve been prescribed, or not taking them exactly the way they’ve been prescribed, can mean they won’t provide the protection against heart attack and stroke they’re designed to provide. If you have any questions about your medications and how to take them properly, ask your doctor or the Pharmacist at Walmart.
In addition:
  • If you smoke, quit.

Tasty, healthy food tips

The Canadian Diabetes Association suggests the following:
  • Take a few minutes each week to plan your menus and a grocery list.
  • Choose seasonal produce and pick the brightest colours that you can.
  • Equip your kitchen for low fat food preparation.
  • Use cooking methods that do not add extra fat to the dish.
  • Reduce or eliminate high fat ingredients from your favourite recipes.
  • Learn to use spices and herbs to kick up the flavour.
  • Go vegetarian for a night.
  • To keep control of your portions, think of the “more space on your plate.”
  • Double check your serving size.

Exercise is important

Regular physical activity isanother key way to help reduce your risk of heart attack or stroke. That’s why you should try to be active everyday, even if you just start out with simple activities like gardening or taking a brisk walk.
There are two types of exercise that can help people living with diabetes:
  • Aerobic exercise, like walking, biking or jogging, which increases breathing and your heart rate
  • Resistance exercise, like working with weights, which builds muscle strength
The Canadian Diabetes Association recommends your eventual exercise goals should be:
  • At least 150 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise each week
  • Whenyou are ready, try adding resistance exercises like lifting weights three times a week
But remember, if you haven’t been active for a while, starting an exercise program suddenly could have risks. Safety is important, so you should talk to your doctor before beginning or changing any exercise program, to make sure it’s right for you. And always carry glucose tablets or Life Savers® with you when you exercise, just in case you need to treat low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia)

Important information

If you are living with diabetes, the Pharmacist at Walmart is ready to help you minimize your risk of heart attack and stroke... Just ask!

This information should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your doctor. There may be variations in treatment that your physician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances. If you have questions about your symptoms, ask the Pharmacist at Walmart for more information, and/or contact your doctor.

The pharmacist at Walmart does not endorse or recommend any sponsor or their products or services.
Any representation, performance claim, warranty or guarantee in any materials herein is the sole responsibility of the sponsor that has prepared such materials and is not independently verified by Walmart.

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