February is American Heart Month making it an appropriate time for us to discuss heart disease and diabetes. People with diabetes have an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. For many individuals with diabetes high blood pressure and high cholesterol are involved with these increased risk.
It is all about circulation.
Remember the saying "Your body is your temple." Think of your blood vessels and veins as the plumbing of your temple(home). If you dump honey in sink after some time the plumbing in your house(temple) is going to clog up. This is what happens to someone with poorly managed diabetes. High blood sugar(glucose) stays in the bloodstream "clogging up" or eventually damaging your blood vessels and nerves responsible for carrying blood to your heart. Blood from your heart also carries important nutrients to your brain, kidneys and other vital organs. Poor circulation leads to stokes, heart attack, amputations and dialysis.
Here are some steps you can take if you have or don't have diabetes to decrease your risk.
1. Stop smoking.
Smoking increases people with diabetes blood sugar up to 20%. Also, high blood sugar and smoking narrows blood vessels in legs increasing the risk of lower leg infections, ulcers and amputation. Join a smoking cessation program if you having difficulty stopping on your own.
2. Follow a healthy eating plan.
Eating more vegetables and fruit is associated with managing heart disease. Also, limiting your intake of packaged foods helps to reduce salt and fat intake. Cooking with more herbs can enhance the flavor of your favorite food thereby decreasing your need for salt. Sticking to whole food is usually the best way to go to improve your health and lose weight.
3. Increase your activity.
Thirty minutes of low impact exercise such as walking can improve your blood glucose(sugar) 24 hours later. If you do not like to walk gardening, dancing and cycling are just as effective as walking. Just move!
4. Try to maintain a healthy weight.
Losing 5% to 7% of weight will help improve blood sugar for overweight people with diabetes. Losing 10% of weight will help improve blood pressure for people with hypertension. You can work with a dietitian to find a sustainable plan to lose weight.
5. Get plenty of sleep.
Failing to get adequate sleep increases your stress level. Increase stress level elevates your blood sugar and blood pressure. Also, when people are tired they tend to drink caffeine. Caffeine and heart disease is a bad combination for many people with hypertension. Try avoid caffeine intake in the afternoon and try relaxing activities such as reading a book before you sleep(not the computer!) to wind down.
I hope these tips provides you some insight on how to manage diabetes and hypertension. If you need any more information or would like to schedule an appointment fill out the information on the contact page.