Diabetes is a disease that keeps the Diabetesbody from making or properly using insulin. Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas. Insulin changes sugar, starches and other food into energy your body needs.

There are two types of diabetes. Type 1 usually occurs in children or teens and results when the body fails to make insulin. Type 2 is the more common form of diabetes and usually occurs after age 45. Type 2 diabetes results from insulin resistance. This means that the body doesn’t effectively use the insulin it makes. Type 2 diabetics’ bodies may not make enough insulin, either. In recent years, there has been an alarming increase in type 2 diabetes in children and teens.

2014 diabetes statistics tell us:

  • 29.1 million Americans or 9.3% of the population have diabetes
  • Of those, 21 million have been diagnosed
  • 8.1 million people have diabetes and have not been diagnosed

How Does Diabetes Affect Heart Disease?

Diabetics are more than twice as likely to be affected by heart disease and stroke as people who don’t have diabetes. Diabetes speeds up the process of plaque build-up in the arteries. This causes arteries to narrow, resulting in less blood flow through the arteries. For this reason, diabetics tend to see heart and vascular problems at an earlier age. More than 65% of deaths in diabetic people are caused by heart and vascular disease. People with diabetes are also two to four times more likely to have strokes. 73% of diabetics have high blood pressure.

What are the Risk Factors for Type 2 Diabetes?

  • Older age
  • Obesity
  • Family history of diabetes
  • Not getting enough exercise
  • Race – African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans and Native Americans are at a higher risk

How is Type 2 Diabetes Managed?

  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Taking medication to control high blood pressure and high cholesterol
  • Exercising regularly
  • Losing excess weight
  • Taking oral medication like insulin

Promising Results When Diabetes is Controlled

When glucose levels are strictly managed, it can reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke or even death from cardiovascular disease by up to 57%.

Diabetics who control blood pressure can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by 33 to 50%. And, improved control of cholesterol or blood lipids can reduce cardiovascular disease complications by 20 to 50%. If you are pre-diabetic or diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, you should work closely with your primary care doctor to manage your diabetes. However, should heart disease symptoms arise, you may be referred to a cardiologist to help manage your risk factors.