Taking Care of Your Diabetes Means Taking Care of Your Heart
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Many people don’t know that having diabetes means that you have a greater chance of having heart problems such as heart attack or stroke. This tip sheet encourages patients with diabetes to work with their health care team to set goals to manage A1C, blood pressure, and cholesterol to prevent heart problems. It also has a record form to track diabetes numbers.
Reviewed for Plain Language Principles
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Last reviewed: 07/01/2014
Diabetes and Heart Disease
For people with diabetes, heart disease can be a serious health problem. Many people don’t know that having diabetes means that you have a greater chance of having heart problems such as a heart attack or stroke. Taking care of your diabetes can also help you take care of your heart. Use the tools in this tip sheet to help. They are:
- A list of things you can do such as eating healthy foods and getting more active.
- A form to write down and track your A1C, blood pressure, and cholesterol numbers.
What you can do now
Ask your health care team these questions:
- What can I do to lower my chances of getting heart disease?
- What should my goals be for A1C, blood pressure, and cholesterol?
- What can I do to reach these goals?
- Should I take medicine that can protect my heart such as aspirin or a statin?
- Eat foods that are high in fiber such as whole grain breads and cereals, brown rice, lentils, beans, fruits, and vegetables.
- Eat foods with heart-healthy fats such as fish, nuts, seeds, and avocado.
- Eat foods low in saturated and transfats such as lean meat, chicken without the skin, fish, and non-fat or low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese.
- Use oils when cooking food instead of butter, cream, shortening, lard, or stick margarine.
- Limit desserts such as cookies and ice cream to only 1 or 2 times a week.
- Eat smaller amounts of foods that are high in fat, sugar, or salt. For example, if you want french fries, order the kid-sized portion.
- Bake, broil, or grill food instead of frying.
- Do not add salt to food.
- Ask for help or call 1-800-784-8669 (1-800-QUIT-NOW).
- Be active for 30 minutes or more each day. It’s okay to be active for 10 minutes at a time, 3 times a day.
- Walk, dance, swim, or ride a bike.
Take your medicine.
- Take medicines the way your doctor or health care team tells you to.
- Do not stop taking your medicines until you talk to your doctor.
- Ask your pharmacist or doctor any questions you have about your medicines.
Cope with stress as best you can.
- Ask for help if you feel down. Talk to a mental health counselor, member of the clergy, friend, or family member who will listen to your concerns.
- Tell your family members and friends how they can best help and support you.
Here's one more way to take care of your heart:
Learn the warning signs of a heart attack and stroke.
- Signs of a heart attack may include pressure, squeezing, fullness, and pain in the chest or upper body. You may also have shortness of breath.
- The signs of a heart attack for a woman may be different than a man. Signs for a woman can include nausea and vomiting, being tired all the time (sometimes for days), and pain in the back, shoulders, and jaw.
- Signs of a stroke may include weakness on one side and trouble walking, seeing, or speaking.
Call 9-1-1 right away if you think you are having a heart attack or stroke.
Acting fast can save your life.
Your Diabetes Record Form
Use this form to keep track of your A1C, blood pressure, and cholesterol numbers. These terms are explained below the Diabetes Record Form.
- Write down the date and results for each test or blood pressure check you get.
- Take this form with you on your health care visits. Show it to your health care team.
- Talk about your goals and how you are doing.
|A1C||At each visit:||My Goal|
|Blood Pressure (BP)||At each visit:||My Goal|
|Cholesterol||At each visit:||My Goal|
To learn more:
National Diabetes Education Program
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
NHLBI Health Information Center
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
Know Stroke Campaign