Diabetes Complications: How to Protect Your Heart
What you can do: There are many things you can do to protect your heart, including:
- Achieve good blood glucose control. Keeping your blood glucose in control is important for avoiding all complications, including heart problems.
- Eat right and exercise (even a little helps). Eat more fruits and vegetables, lower salt intake, do aerobic or other continuous physical activity (at least 4 days a week for 30 minutes each time), and try to reduce stress.
- Snuff out cigarettes. The right level of smoking for a person with diabetes is none at all.
- Improve cholesterol. Research shows that statins, a class of cholesterol-lowering drugs, are beneficial. Statins further reduce risk of heart attack with diabetes by up to 40 percent.
- Lower blood pressure. Beyond losing weight, eating right, and exercising, prescription medications called ACE (angiotensin converting enzyme) inhibitors and ARBs (angiotensin receptor blockers) can help.
- Consider taking an aspirin daily. "Because diabetics have abnormally sticky platelets that make their blood thick, an aspirin a day is also prudent" for protecting the heart, says Brownlee. A children's chewable tablet (81 mg) will do the trick for most adults, but be sure to check with your doctor first.
You can prevent a heart attack or stroke.