Home > Patients & Visitors > Health Library > Diabetes: Lower Your Heart Disease Risk
It's true—diabetes raises your risk of heart disease. That means your risks of heart attack and stroke are higher when you have diabetes. Diabetes is plenty to keep up with as it is. That explains why dealing with both heart risk and diabetes can seem like too much all at once.
But it's also true that good heart-health care has a lot in common with good diabetes care.
When you have diabetes, there are times when you have a higher-than-normal level of sugar in your blood. High blood sugar can damage the walls of your arteries. This damage can lead to plaque buildup in your arteries. The plaque buildup can narrow and even block your arteries.
Your risk of having heart disease is even higher if you have:
You can lower your heart disease risk by:
This isn't as hard as it might sound. Many of the same healthy habits help control your blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol, and weight.
You're probably already doing more for your heart than you think.
Plan your foods with diabetes in mind. Then think heart-healthy, and make changes if needed.
You can choose from several heart-healthy eating plans(What is a PDF document?) to help control your blood pressure and cholesterol.
Being active is good for your diabetes and for your heart. It helps manage your blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol. And it plays a key part in controlling your weight. In turn, a healthy weight also helps control your diabetes and heart risk.
Your doctor might suggest a cholesterol and triglyceride test based on your age or your risk for heart disease. Talk to your doctor about when a cholesterol test is right for you.
For more information, see When to Have a Cholesterol Test.
For more information, see Statins: Should I Take Them? and Aspirin: Should I Take Daily Aspirin to Prevent a Heart Attack or Stroke?
Health Tools help you make wise health decisions or take action to improve your health.
Other Works Consulted
American Diabetes Association (2016). Standards of medical care in diabetes—2016. Diabetes Care, 39(Suppl 1): S1–S112.
De Ferranti SD, et al. (2014). Type 1 diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular disease: A scientific statement from the American Heart Association and American Diabetes Association. Diabetes Care, published online August 11, 2014. DOI: 10.2337/dc14-1720. Accessed September 4, 2014.
Eckel RH, et al. (2013). 2013 AHA/ACC guideline on lifestyle management to reduce cardiovascular risk: A report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines. Circulation. http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/early/2013/11/11/01.cir.0000437740.48606.d1.citation. Accessed December 5, 2013.
Fox CS, et al. (2015).
Update on prevention of cardiovascular disease in adults with type 2 diabetes mellitus in light of recent evidence: A scientific statement from the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association.
Diabetes Care, 38(9):1777–1803. DOI: 10.2337/dci15-0012. Accessed September 29, 2015.
Skyler JS, et al. (2009). Intensive glycemic control and the prevention of cardiovascular events: Implications of the ACCORD, ADVANCE, and VA Diabetes Trials: A position statement of the American Diabetes Association and a scientific statement of the American College of Cardiology Foundation and the American Heart Association. Diabetes Care, 32(1), 187–192.
Smith SC, et al. (2011). AHA/ACCF secondary prevention and risk reduction therapy for patients with coronary and other atherosclerotic vascular disease: 2011 update: A guideline from the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology Foundation. Circulation, 124(22): 2458–2473. Also available online: http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/124/22/2458.full.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal MedicineKathleen Romito, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerDavid C.W. Lau, MD, PhD, FRCPC - Endocrinology
Current as ofMay 23, 2016
Current as of:
May 23, 2016
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & David C.W. Lau, MD, PhD, FRCPC - Endocrinology
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2016 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.
You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups and pregnancy.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.