Why Is Heart Disease So Common in People With Diabetes?
Diabetes is now regarded as the highest risk factor for heart disease. The blood vessels in people with
diabetes are more susceptible to other risk factors, such as smoking, high cholesterol and high blood pressure, and more than 90% of patients with diabetes have one or more of these big risk factors which can eventually lead to heart attacks. Heart attacks are the second highest cause of death in Canada.
Some of the increased susceptibility to blood vessel damage that people with diabetes have could be due to the long-term effects of inadequate control of blood glucose levels on the tissues or as a result of other cell damage related to diabetes. There is also evidence that being overweight, having a sedentary lifestyle and poor blood glucose control contribute to the increased chance of high blood pressure and abnormalities in blood lipids.
Evidence shows that patients with diabetes have a higher level of low-grade inflammation of their arterial lining, a process that initiates the blood vessel changes leading to heart disease. Some of the new tests to assess this inflammation are being evaluated, including C-reactive protein and homocysteine.