By Vikas Soma, MD, FACC
Premier Heart and Vascular Center, North Lakeland

As we close out National Diabetes Month, we want to share some essential tips on managing your diabetes to improve your heart health.

The overall health of your heart is directly connected to diabetes because your chronically elevated blood sugar tends to increase several other risk factors–high cholesterol levels, for example, which tend to lead to heart problems. And studies tell us that Type 2 diabetics, when compared to non-diabetics, are two to four times more likely to have a stroke or a heart disease.

Besides eating a healthy diet and avoiding things that can worsen your condition (smoking, for example), you can take these steps to improve your heart health:

1. Set Clear Goals

Living with diabetes means you need to keep several key health metrics in a specific range. That’s why it helps to have clear goals created around specific lifestyle changes that you can maintain.

It’s best to decide on these with your doctor who can also help you determine which and how much medication you need what your ideal blood sugar level is and what you need to do to keep your cholesterol and blood pressure levels in the normal ranges.

After discussing those metrics, you’ll have set a clear set of goals. In time, you’ll develop habits and managing your diabetes in the best way possible will be easier over time.

2. Get Enough Exercise

Exercise lowers your risk of cardiovascular disease.

Cardiology experts suggest that diabetics use aerobic exercise like walking, jogging, swimming, and biking to help your heart become stronger and improve the health of your blood vessels.

Our general advice is to exercise a little every day and lead a less sedentary lifestyle. Don’t sit for a prolonged period of time; get up for a short walk or something similar—even deep breathing exercises–to get the blood flowing.

3. Maintain a Healthy Weight

Your weight is a significant factor in your heart health, especially when you have diabetes. Maintaining your weight in the optimal range will not only lower your blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels but also give you more energy to stay active and healthy.

4. Check Your Blood Sugar Levels Regularly

Your blood sugar level directly affects your heart health and risk for heart disease. Find your ideal A1C target and track it regularly to make sure you’re within it. Talk to your doctor to find out what your ideal level is, as it depends on a variety of factors.

Leading a healthy lifestyle that promotes heart health while having diabetes doesn’t need to be difficult. With a clear set of goals, assistance from your doctor, healthy eating habits, and exercise, you’ll be set for a long, healthy life.

If you need more help, feel free to contact us.