Guidelines for a healthy heart while managing Diabetes.
Good heart health is most essential when you’re living with Diabetes. Follow these 6 guidelines to take care of your heart and live better.
Having diabetes means that you’re at a greater risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Not many people know but heart disease is also one of the most common causes of death amongst people living with diabetes. With careful management of your blood sugar levels, blood pressure and cholesterol, you’re sure to have a good heart and a healthy life. Good heart health is essential for living a healthy life, and even more important when you’re living with diabetes.
So what are things to live by when it comes to taking care of your heart while managing your diabetes? Here are a few:
Maintain a healthy weight
Being overweight increases your risk of heart disease, especially when you’re living with diabetes. This is because being overweight puts a strain on your body in all sorts of ways and puts you at higher risk of heart disease. Two of the best ways to lose weight is through exercise and a healthy diet. A healthy diet is also important for controlling your blood sugar levels so concentrate on making good food choices. Speak to your doctor or dietician about your diet, specifically for your weight loss, and about any exercise you plan to add to your lifestyle.
Become more physically active
Exercise can help reduce blood sugar, blood cholesterol and blood pressure, helping you to keep your heart health in check. Regular exercise also helps you lose weight and stay mentally fit. Both physical and mental stress can send your blood sugar out of whack. If you haven’t been exercising or struggle to, start by taking walks or exercising a few days a week. Also, speak to your doctor about the kind of physical activities that will be good for you. Apart from physical exercise, consider taking up a hobby. Do something that will help you stay mentally fit and also help you de-stress.
Just like diabetes, tobacco narrows your blood vessels, restricting the blood flow and the oxygen and nutrients your body cells need. The combination of having diabetes and using tobacco can cause serious damage to your blood vessels so quitting smoking is one of the most important things you can do to protect yourself and your heart. Quitting can be hard so you might need the support of those around you and perhaps even your doctor. However, it is important that you do quit.
Keep your blood pressure under control
High blood pressure increases your risk of a strike. Make sure you get your blood pressure tested at least twice a year and speak to your doctor for advice or medication that will help lower your blood pressure if you need to.
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Keep your cholesterol under control
Your risk for heart disease increases when you have a high level of blood fats, including cholesterol so it’s important to know your blood fat levels. In someone living with diabetes, the target levels of so-called bad cholesterol (LDL cholesterol) should actually be lower than in someone without diabetes (under 100). Your level of so-called good cholesterol (HDL cholesterol) should be more than 40 if you’re a man and more than 50 if you’re a woman. Speak to your dietician about a meal plan to keep your cholesterol in control.
Keep your blood glucose in check
Monitor your blood glucose regularly and take the right actions, medication or meals depending on your blood glucose checks. High blood glucose levels can lead to other diabetic complications so it’s important that you understand your blood glucose levels.
Speak to your doctor about your A1C. A Haemoglobin A1C blood test is a test performed by your doctor or healthcare provider that shows you how well your blood glucose has been controlled over a period of time (two months or so). Know your target A1C and if it’s too high, speak to your doctor for help with a treatment plan.
We all have questions.
Below are some of the answers to the most common questions that you need to know.
Which is worse – Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes?
“Worse” is a harsh comparison. The difference between these two types of Diabetes is that Type 1 requires insulin, and it never goes away. Type 2 requires consistent effort and can be managed over your lifetime.
What is the normal HbA1C level?
It is generally accepted that you should maintain HbA1C below 8%. The following guidelines are suggested by the South African Diabetes Association:
- 4 – 6% Non-Diabetic range.
- < 7% Well-controlled Diabetic 7% – 8% Acceptable Diabetic control > 8%
- Poor Diabetic control needs attention.
What is the main cause of Diabetes?
Diabetes (Type 1) is usually a predisposed or genetically inherited condition. Diabetes (Type 2) is caused by lifestyle choices. Gestational Diabetes occurs in pregnant mothers.
What are the first signs of Diabetes?
- Excessive thirst over a prolonged period.
- Increased frequency in the need to urinate.
- Significant weight loss or gain.
- You find yourself fatigued, tired, and irritable, on a regular basis.
- Open or ruptured wounds take a long time to heal.
- Blurred vision.
- Tingling sensations in your hands and feet.
Can you get life insurance if you have Diabetes?
Yes. AllLife can help you get up to R10million life insurance, when you are a Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetic.
Can I test myself for Diabetes?
Although you can easily test your own blood glucose levels at any time, only your doctor, nurse, or clinic team can confirm your diagnosis as Diabetic. A series of specific tests are required for diagnosis.
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