Diabetes and Your Heart and Blood Vessels

Diabetes and Your Heart and Blood Vessels

Taking care of your diabetes every day will help keep your blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol in your target range and help prevent other health problems that diabetes can cause over the years. You can do a lot to prevent diabetes problems

  • Follow your meal plan every day.
    Drawing of a man, woman, and two children sitting a table during a meal.
  • Take your diabetes medicines every day.
    Drawing of a woman standing at a kitchen counter and drinking from a glass. A pill bottle is on the counter next to her.
  • Be physically active every day.
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  • Check your blood glucose as recommended.
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The biggest problem for people with diabetes is heart and blood vessel disease. Heart and blood vessel disease can lead to heart attacks and strokes. It also causes poor blood flow, also calledcirculation, in the legs and feet.

To check for heart and blood vessel disease, your health care team will do some tests. At least once a year, have a blood test to see how much cholesterol is in your blood. Your health care provider should take your blood pressure at every visit. Your provider may also check the circulation in your legs, feet, and neck.
The best way to prevent heart and blood vessel disease is to take good care of yourself and your diabetes.
Eat foods that are low in sodium. Check the amount of sodium by looking at the Nutrition Facts on food packages. Limit the amount of salt you use when you cook and at the table. Choose foods naturally low in sodium, such as vegetables, fruits, dry beans and peas, and unprocessed meats, poultry, and fish.
Limit how much you have of these kinds of fat:
saturated fat, such as bacon, butter, cream, lard, and high-fat dairy products such as whole milk
trans fat, found in processed foods with partially hydrogenated or hydrogenated oil
cholesterol, found in high-fat dairy products, high-fat meats and poultry, egg yolks, and liver
Keep your blood glucose on track. Know your A1C. The target for most people is below 7.
Keep your blood pressure on track. The target for most people is below 130/80. If needed, take medicine to control your blood pressure.
Keep your cholesterol level on track. The target for LDL cholesterol for most people is below 100. If needed, take medicine to control your blood fat levels.
If you smoke, quit.
Be physically active.
Lose weight if you need to.
Ask your health care team whether you should take an aspirin every day.