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Diabetes Ed: Keeping Your Heart Healthy

headshot of liz wilson elizabeth wilson in dark blue shirt with polka dots smiling
headshot of liz wilson elizabeth wilson in dark blue shirt with polka dots smiling

Written by Elizabeth W., Diabetes Educator

Elizabeth is a Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist at NMC Health.

Paying close attention to heart health is very important for someone with diabetes.  Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the number one cause of death in people with diabetes, resulting in 2/3 of deaths in people with type 2 diabetes.  In fact, people with diabetes are twice as likely to have heart disease or a stroke than people without diabetes.  

The good news is you can reduce your risk of CVD and associated complications by following your diabetes management plan:  taking medication as prescribed, keeping your blood sugar within range, watching your diet, & exercising. 

Here are recommendations from the American Diabetes Association:

At every office visit:

  • Check your blood pressure
  • Talk about your blood glucose meter readings. Take along your meter/logbook
  • Check your weight and talk about ways to reach a healthy weight
  • Talk about what you eat
  • Discuss any lifestyle, work, or emotional changes
  • Discuss your physical activity
  • If you smoke, talk about ways to quit
  • Remove shoes and socks to have your feet checked
  • Talk about all the medicine you take, including over-the-counter pills, herbs, vitamins, and other supplements
  • Ask if you should take aspirin to lower your chances of having a heart attack
  • Ask any remaining questions you have about your diabetes care
Handsome doctor is talking with young female patient and making notes while sitting in his office, clinic, family medicine, gynecology

Every three to six months, have your A1C checked by your doctor. A1C gives your average blood glucose over the past two to three months.

Once a year, have a dilated eye exam to check for eye problems, get a flu shot, and have a complete foot exam.

Every five years, have your cholesterol checked—and check more often if it’s not on target.

Tips for living heart-healthy:

  • Exercise—The optimal time you should spend per week exercising is 150 minutes. You can break this up however you like over the week and be sure to do exercises you enjoy! The best type of exercise is the one you’ll actually do—learn more and get inspired
  • Sit less—Sitting less and exercising go hand-in-hand. Get up and walk around every 30 minutes to get your heart pumping. Find more tips to break a sitting streak.
  • Manage weight—If you’re already at a healthy weight for your age and height, you’re good to go! If needed though, losing even 10–15 pounds makes a big difference. Get the facts on weight loss.
  • Take medication—Taking your medications as directed by your doctor is one of the best defenses against CVD. If you have trouble remembering, try setting an alarm or use a pill box. 
  • Eat well—Use the Diabetes Plate Method to create healthy portions without thinking about it—the method does all the thinking for you!  
  • Manage stress—Mental healthis extremely important if you live with diabetes for your emotional and physical well-being. Stress hormones can lead to high blood pressure and make it more difficult to have good diabetes management. 
  • Follow up with your care team—Communicate with your care team, and yourself, to get the best care you can from the health professionals dedicated to your wellness.
  • Attend a diabetes education class—Learn how to manage your diabetes confidently and independently with the expert guidance (often covered by insurance) of health professionals. 
  • Sleep better—Get those six to eight hours of restful sleep to reduce stress hormones and feel your best to tackle the days ahead. 
  • Know your numbers—Use a log or chart to keep track of numbers like your A1C, blood pressure, blood glucose, and cholesterol. 

Diabetes Education Support Group

Be sure and attend diabetes support group on Thursday, April 14th. The zoom meeting will be at 11am. If you would like to attend the in person meeting, please call our office at 316-804-6147.

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