Many people do not realize that cardiovascular problems are associated with diabetes. However, heart issues are one of the major complications of diabetes. A person with diabetes is at an elevated risk of experiencing a heart attack or stroke. In fact, according to the American Diabetes Association, a person with diabetes is more than twice as likely to have a heart attack or stroke than a person who does not have the illness.

The reason why heart problems are among the top major complications of diabetes is because a person with the disease is likely to have blood vessels that are blocked or narrowed by excess fat deposits. When the blood supply to a person’s heart becomes totally blocked, a heart attack will occur. The same thing can happen to blood vessels in the brain.

Monitoring one’s blood pressure is an important preventative measure for a diabetic to take in regards to heart problems. Blood pressure should be checked every time a diabetic goes in for a routine check-up. A man with diabetes should maintain a blood pressure level that is under 130/180 mm Hg. A cholesterol test can also be useful because it can determine if there is an unhealthy amount of the “bad” cholesterol, or low-density lipoprotein (LDL). The opposite of that (high-density lipoprotein, or HDL) is referred to as “good” cholesterol. This type of cholesterol is actually good for the body because it can help carry away the LDL cholesterol, keeping arteries clear and decreasing a person’s risk for the major complications of diabetes.

Triglyceride levels in the blood should also be checked in a diabetic patient. Triglycerides are a type of fat that comes from calories that body doesn’t need. Eating foods with a low glycemic index will help to bring triglyceride levels into a healthy range, lowering the risk of heart attack or stroke.


Other Major Complications of Diabetes Linked to Blood Vessel Damage


Damage to the nerves, kidneys, eyes and feet are some of the major complications of diabetes. Nerve damage is called neuropathy and causes tingling, numbness, burning or pain in the feet. This type of problem takes place because excess sugar has the potential to harm tiny blood vessels that feed the nerves. In extreme cases, people can experience problems with their gastrointestinal tract. Vomiting, constipation and diarrhea can result when this occurs. Incontinence is one of the other major complications of diabetes because men may experience erectile dysfunction from nerve damage. Nerve damage is so dangerous because it can lead to decreased sensation in the limbs. This factor, mixed with poor circulation, can turn minor cuts and scrapes into serious and potentially life-threatening foot ulcers.

The restriction of blood vessels in diabetics also causes eye damage because the blood vessels that lead to the retina become compromised, sometimes leading to blindness. Cataracts and glaucoma are also among the major complications of diabetes. When severe damage takes place in the blood vessels, kidney damage (nephropathy) can take place. This is because the kidneys have clusters of blood vessels that remove waste from the blood. Kidney damage can lead to kidney failure or kidney disease if it gets bad enough.