World Heart Day: Tips To Prevent Heart Disease In Diabetics

Heart Day

The prolonged elevated blood glucose in diabetes can lead to numerous changes in the blood vessels. It eventually makes the individual prone and vulnerable to developing heart diseases. As per the data, adults with diabetes have 50% higher chances of succumbing to heart disease [1]. It is also important to mention diabetes as one of the major causes of hospitalization and sudden death due to predisposed heart problems. Women and elderly diabetics are comparatively more vulnerable to different heart issues as per the experts.

Diabetes increases the chances of heart failure by almost 40%[1]. The implications of this challenging disease are so immense that heart problems were observed even in the younger generation.

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However, there are some tips that can keep heart problems at bay for diabetics. Here are a few:

Modify Your Diet
The major complications of the heart can be prevented by having a good diet plan. The following measures help in maintaining a healthy heart:
-Consume foods with low glycemic index like multigrain flour, whole grains, lentils, fruits, non-starchy vegetables, and carrots.
-Avoid processed foods like chips, sweets, burgers, etc.
-Drink more water, fewer sugary drinks, and less alcohol
-Switch to oils with high volumes of monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats like olive oil, canola oil, soybean oil, or rice bran oil. Limit intake to one tablespoon a day.
-Restrict intake of foods with high glycemic index like white breads, white rice, fatty foods, and soda.

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Indulge in Physical Activity
An intensive lifestyle modification is required in patients with prediabetes and diabetes to have a healthy heart. It is advisable to indulge 150 minutes/week in moderate-intensity physical activity. Exercise reduces the risk of cardiovascular complications by reducing blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and overall weight.

People with diabetes who spend at least four hours a week doing moderate exercise (including walking) have a  40% lower risk of developing heart disease [2]. People who walk for even 2 hours/week reduce the risk of getting a heart attack [2].

Keep the following things in mind before initiating any form of exercise:
-Try to exercise after one to three hours of eating.
-Check your blood sugar after and before workouts especially if you are on insulin.
-Eat a piece of fruit or a small snack before exercise if your blood glucose is below 100 mg/dl.

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Stress is also a contributory factor for heart disease in diabetics. Individuals with diabetes often experience emotional states such as sadness, loneliness, and anger due to persistent physical symptoms.

As per one small study, depression is found to be almost doubled in people with diabetes compared to those without the condition [3]. The study also found that individuals with depression had a 24% increased risk of adverse macrovascular complications including heart attack [3]. The following measures might help in reducing stress:
-Plan and prioritize work to prevent last-minute chaos
-Try to finish one work before stepping into the next
-Have a positive attitude
-Make time for the things you like
-Discuss the emotional symptoms with your loved ones
-Think about the good rather than focusing on the bad things in life
-Say “no” to things that you don’t want or need to do
-Accept what you cannot change
-Talk to someone with diabetes
-Socialize more

Maintain a Sleep Schedule
Inadequate sleep increases the risk of developing heart disease. People with diabetes are further at more risk as insufficient or irregular sleep can negatively affect diet, stress, and other lifestyle factors that can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Tips to have a sound sleep include:
-Stick to a consistent sleep schedule and practice good sleep hygiene.
-Get morning sunlight for 15-30 minutes to regulate your biological clock.
-Stay active during the day as a sedentary lifestyle can hamper a good night’s sleep.
-Try to limit daytime naps.
-Follow mindful eating and avoid large meals and beverages before bedtime.

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There is an emerging body of evidence that diabetes increases the risk of heart disease. A variety of lifestyle interventions have been shown to decrease the risk of these complications. The life of the heart can be prolonged by following a strict diet regimen. Individuals with diabetes should also indulge in some sort of physical activity. Inadequate sleep and stress are some of the most neglected factors. These should also be taken into consideration for a healthy heart. This World Heart Day make sure you follow these simple habits to pump up your heart health and add years to your life!

(The article is written by Kanchan Vats, Team Lead, and reviewed by Monalisa Deka, Senior Health Content Editor)

1. SM Dunlay, M Givertz and D Augilar, Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus and Heart Failure: A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association and the Heart Failure Society of America, American College Of Cardiology [Updated 2019]. Available From:
2. Diabetes, Heart Disease, and Stroke, National Institute Of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease [Updated April 2021]. Available from:
3. Hackett Ruth A and  Steptoe Andrew, Psychosocial Factors in Diabetes and Cardiovascular Risk, Current Cardiology Review. [Updated 2016]. Available form: Hidekata.
4. Daily physical activity and type 2 diabetes: A review, World Journal Of Diabetes, [Updated 2016]. Available from:

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