Having diabetes is a bit like throwing gasoline on the fire, in terms of heart risk. Adults with diabetes are two to four times more likely to die of heart disease than people who do not have diabetes. In fact, at least 65% of people with diabetes die of heart disease or stroke, according to the American Heart Association.
Most people with diabetes unaware of heart risk
If you didn't know the strong link between heart disease and diabetes, you're not alone.
New campaign to boost awareness
You need to maintain strict control of your blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol to ward off problems. And that advice hasn't been emphasized enough, as Mike Boscia's experience illustrates.
- A is for A1C: You should have this blood test, short for hemoglobin A1C, at least twice a year. It can tell you your average blood glucose for the past two to three months. The target for most people is below 7%.
- B is for blood pressure: Have it checked every time you see the doctor. The target for most people with diabetes is below 130/80.
C is for cholesterol: You should have your cholesterol checked at least once a year. The targets for most people are:
- LDL (bad) cholesterol: below 100
- HDL (good) cholesterol: above 40 in men and above 50 in women
- Triglycerides (another type of fat in the blood): below 150
Boscia's wife Lee was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes about three years ago, but her experience has been strikingly different. "Right away," her husband says, the doctors told her, "'We're going to keep an eye on your heart, too, because (diabetes) can affect it.'"