Have a heart, for your heart

February is National Heart Month.

Valentine’s Day is one of the sweetest days of the year with flowers, chocolates, cards and maybe even precious stones to show how much you love someone. This special day is a way to show from your heart to that special person how much they mean to you. But do you take care of your heart so that it can take care of you?

Heart disease is a leading cause of death for both men and women and the number one killer of women. February is National Heart Month, bringing awareness to this preventable and controllable disease. “Heart disease” refers to various types of heart conditions, with coronary heart disease being the most common in the United States.

Michigan State University Extension says that there is a strong correlation between cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Diabetes is a disease that is treatable but even when glucose levels are well controlled, a person with Type 2 diabetes in particular, is at an increased risk for heart disease.

Typically, Type 2 diabetes is associated with other conditions that increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Obesity is strongly related to insulin resistance and moderate weight loss can not only improve insulin sensitivity, but it can decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease, as well as other conditions such as high blood pressure. Lack of physical activity is another factor that relates to diabetes and heart disease. Increasing physical activity, including moderate to vigorous intensity, can be beneficial in helping to reduce high blood pressure as well as the risk of a heart attack or stroke.

Abnormal cholesterol often occurs in people with diabetes. There tends to be a triple effect with cholesterol including higher LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, lower HDL (“good”) cholesterol and high triglycerides which is characteristic of premature heart disease and can be associated with a lipid disorder correlated with diabetes.

Some other conditions that increases the risk of heart disease includes smoking, poorly controlled sugars and high blood pressure. People with diabetes in combination with one of the above conditions increase their risk of heart disease and stroke. Keeping these conditions under control through healthy food choices, controlling blood sugar levels, physical activity and regular visits to your doctor can help to avoid or delay possible heart disease.

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