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Diabetes and heart disease: your top 3 questions answered

Physicians Peter Lin and Alice Cheng explain the basics.
Female doctor talking to her older patient
How does diabetes increase my risk of heart disease and stroke?

Diabetes means there is too much sugar in your blood. Sugar sticks to things, including proteins inside your blood vessels. That in turn makes the blood vessels weak. They can become leaky and prone to buildup of cholesterol. The result can be reduced blood flow or a sudden complete blockage if a blood clot forms.

That’s how diabetes can affect your heart and your brain, as well as other organs. On top of that, many people with diabetes also have other risk factors for heart disease and stroke, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

When we talk about heart disease, what are the conditions I could get if I have diabetes?

Heart attack and heart failure are the most common heart problems linked to diabetes.

If I have diabetes, how can I reduce my risk of heart attack or stroke?

We don’t have a cure for diabetes but we can do a lot to keep the complications away – including heart disease and stroke. The best way is to follow what we call the ABCDEs – a combination of lifestyle factors and medical approaches. Check out the details here and talk to your doctor about the ABCDEs. Plus, find helpful tips on healthy changes that can help you reduce your risk.

This information was adapted from a Heart & Stroke Facebook Live presentation, Diabetes and the link to heart disease and stroke, featuring Dr. Peter Lin, a family doctor in Toronto, and Dr. Alice Cheng, an endocrinologist at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto. Watch the video here.