How to lower your heart disease risk
Having type 2 diabetes increases the risk of developing heart disease, or cardiovascular disease. Because of this link, there are many things you can do to lower your risk of heart disease by managing your type 2 diabetes.
Follow a balanced diet
The higher your body mass index (BMI), the greater the likelihood of developing heart disease risk factors. If you are overweight, try to get down to a healthy weight.
Eating foods that are high in saturated fat, sugar and salt can increase your risk of heart disease. Following a balanced diet can help you better manage your blood sugar, cholesterol, blood pressure and weight, which are all risk factors of heart disease.
Try to eat:
- Vegetables and fruits
- Wholegrain options of bread, pasta and rice
- Some fish, meat and eggs and other non-dairy sources of proteins
- Less red meat and more fish
- Some dairy products, such as milk and cheese
- Limited amounts of fatty and sugary foods and drinks
Try to avoid:
- Foods that are high in salt, which can increase your blood pressure
- Foods and beverages with a lot of added sugar
- Food with high levels of saturated fat (commonly found in animal products) and trans fats (typically found in fried food, cakes and sweet treats), especially in large amounts
- Large amounts of alcohol
In addition to following a balanced diet, increasing your level of physical activity can help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
Physical activity can help improve the following conditions, which also helps reduce your risk of developing heart disease:
- Blood pressure
- Blood lipid (blood fat) levels
- The health of your heart and blood vessels
- The ability to use insulin to lower your blood sugar
Diabetes experts recommend doing aerobic exercise (raising your heart and breathing rate) for a total of 150 minutes each week.
Stopping smoking is one way to cut your risk of developing heart disease and improve your overall health. In fact, 11 years after you stop, your risk will be the same as that of a person with type 2 diabetes who does not smoke.
There are many support programmes available to help you stop smoking for good. Talk to your doctor about ways to help you stop smoking to reduce your heart disease risk.
Take your diabetes medications as agreed with your doctor
When diet and exercise are not enough, you may need to take medication to manage your type 2 diabetes. It is important to take your medication as agreed with your doctor to manage your blood sugar levels over time, while also helping to prevent any potential damage to your blood vessels. Type 2 diabetes is a lifelong disease and managing it today will help you in the long-term.
Monitor and record your blood sugar levels
Regularly monitoring and recording your blood sugar levels is one way to effectively control your type 2 diabetes, while also managing your overall heart disease risk. Try using a diabetes monitoring diary to record your blood sugar levels.
In addition, it is important that you visit your doctor regularly to have your blood pressure and cholesterol levels checked. This will help you and your doctor better manage your overall risk of heart disease.
Talk to your doctor about heart disease
Your doctor can help you identify which lifestyle choices and treatments can benefit your type 2 diabetes and lower your risk for heart attack and stroke. Print out this quick guide to get an idea of the right questions you can ask your doctor at your next scheduled appointment.
Conversation guide for cardiovascular risk