The link between Diabetes and Heart Disease

According to National Heart Association data from 2012, 65% of people with diabetes die of stroke and heart disease 

Diabetes is a chronic disease that causes high blood sugar levels by making the hormone insulin resistant to sugar or making the pancreas produce very little insulin.  Its complications can lead to heart disease, eye damage, hearing impairment, skin conditions, and nerve damage. These complications are mostly identified with type 2 diabetes. To avoid these complications, take proper medications and get regular checkups from the doctor. 

The link between diabetes and heart diseases 

Diabetic heart disease 

Over time, high blood sugar levels in the blood vessels can damage the blood vessels and nerves of the heart. Diabetes patients are also more likely to have the following conditions, which increase their risk of heart disease: high blood pressure (increases the force of blood flowing through your arteries, which can damage the artery walls). These damages increase the chances that you develop these types of heart disease: 

  • Coronary artery disease (CAD): This heart disease is caused by the deposit of a sticky substance called plaque (made up of cholesterol) in arteries to make them hard which affects the supply of blood, oxygen, and other nutrients to the heart.  
  • Heart failure: The heart pumps less blood than is needed to meet the needs of the body.  
  • Cardiomyopathy: This disease makes the heart muscles weak or defective so that blood can’t be pumped properly, to reach the whole body. 

Risk factors 

The risk is higher for males than females to get heart disease, whether they have diabetes or not.  Many risk factors can increase the chances of having heart disease if you have diabetes, such as:  

  • Smoking 
  • High blood pressure 
  • High cholesterol levels 
  • Obesity 
  • Belly fat/ abdominal fat 
  • Having chronic kidney disease 
  • Having a family history of heart disease


Although there are no symptoms in the early stages, you might experience: 

  • Shortness of breath. 
  • Dizziness 
  • Chest pain 
  • Fatigue 
  • Increased sweating 
  • Swollen ankles and feet 
  • Weakness in arms and legs 
  • Nausea 
  • Arrhythmia (problem with the rhythm and rate of heartbeats) 
  • Fainting spells 

Call 911 if you or someone around you is having these symptoms- These might be warning signs of a heart attack.  


Your doctor will ask 

  • Your medical history and the symptoms (you might be experiencing).  
  • Family medical history (to know if anyone in your family has heart disease). 
  • A physical exam (to know the causes of the symptoms you have).  
  • Run some other tests including: 
  • Blood tests to check cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood sugar levels. 
  • Blood pressure checks 
  • Heart tests like ECG, echocardiogram, and a treadmill stress test to see the functioning of the heart.  


The best method to prevent heart disease and stroke is to take care of your diabetes. And this is how you can do it:  

  • Keep your blood sugar levels under control.  
  • Make sure your blood pressure is under limits. Take medication, if it gets too low or high (the average blood pressure you should maintain if you have diabetes is under 130/80). 
  • Control your cholesterol levels. Take medication, if needed. 
  • Lose that extra weight if you are obese or have belly fat. 
  • Exercise daily. 
  • Follow a healthy diet. Eat heart-healthy dishes at least twice a week. 
  • Quit smoking. 
  • Watch your stress levels and make yourself more mindful to stay happy.  
  • Take proper medications and get regular physical tests. 

Diabetes can be a very dangerous disease if you don’t take care of yourself. Taking good care of diabetes ensures that you live a fulfilling life where you are healthy to do all that you want to. 

If you want to know more, you can talk to our endocrinologists for advice and/or a second opinion. To learn more about diabetes and its management visit our Endocrinology page. You can also visit our website at if you have any queries. Call us on +1-347-384-5690 to get answers to your queries or pay us a visit at 1797 Pitkin Avenue, Brooklyn, New York 11212. And if you have diabetes or have its symptoms, come to us for diagnosis and treatment, we have the best endocrinologists and diabetes specialists to help you throughout the process.