According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Additionally, people with Type 2 diabetes are twice as likely to have heart disease or a stroke. But by understanding the relationship between heart disease and diabetes and making healthy changes to your habits, you can lower your risk of heart disease.
The CDC states that people who have diabetes should watch for these conditions, which increase the risk of heart disease:
As a Blue Cross of Idaho member, you have access to many heart health-related tests and screenings at little or no cost to you as part of your preventive care benefits. Additionally, knowing your ABCs can help you lower your risk of heart disease and manage diabetes:
A is for A1C
An A1C test is a blood test that measures your average blood sugar level over the past three months. Knowing your blood sugar level over time can help you avoid damage to your heart, blood vessels, kidneys, feet and eyes.
The ideal A1C level is below 7.
B is for blood pressure
Blood pressure is the force of your blood against the wall of your blood vessels. If your blood pressure is too high, your heart will work too hard and you could have a heart attack, stroke or damage your kidneys and eyes. The ideal blood pressure level for most people is below 140/90.
Ask your doctor what your goal should be.
C is for cholesterol
There are two kinds of cholesterol:
Talk to your doctor about what your goal cholesterol levels should be.
Here are some tips from the American Diabetes Association on how you can prevent or manage heart disease, as well as manage diabetes:
You can help your body be more sensitive to insulin by being active. Exercise also helps keep your blood sugar levels in check. Aim for 150 minutes (two-and-a-half hours) of moderate-intensity exercise each week.
Eat a well-balanced diet
Avoid fad diets and instead eat a well-balanced diet that includes a variety of protein, healthy fats, whole grains and vegetables. Drink plenty of water and avoid sugary beverages.
Keep a healthy weight
Losing weight can help you lower your triglycerides and blood sugar. Losing even 10-15 pounds can make a difference.
Keep your stress level low by finding activities that can help you relieve stress, such as meditating or a hobby that brings you joy. Lots of stress can lead to high blood pressure, so lowering stress can help you manage diabetes, too.
Your primary care provider (PCP) can play an important role in helping you manage diabetes and heart health. If you don’t have a PCP, you can search for one using our member app and our Find Care tool. Make sure you’re logged in so that you only see providers in your network.
Posted: February 8, 2023