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Why Diabetics are at High Risk for Heart Disease

photo of a man grabbing his heartDiabetes places the body at risk for a myriad of additional health problems, including heart disease. A deeper understanding of these two conditions helps to highlight the significance of effective diabetes and cardiovascular care.

The basics of heart disease

Cardiovascular disease generally refers to a heart condition involving damage to the heart’s blood vessels. This damage develops when inflammation, the body’s natural response to injury, occurs within the blood vessels and leads to the formation of plaques. Although such a process is essential for repair, stimulated in excess, this protective response can become harmful and even deadly.

Any factor that increases inflammation in the body contributes to the formation of excess plaques in the blood vessels. As these plaques age and harden, they cause forming atherosclerosis, a hardening of the blood vessels. With their lost elasticity, atherosclerotic vessels can dysfunction and cause organ damage. While the damage in the heart can be experienced as chest pain (angina) and heart attack, atherosclerosis and blood vessel dysfunction can also damage any organ throughout the body. Accelerated atherosclerosis is a large part of the problems experienced by diabetics such as kidney failure and limb amputation.

How diabetes increases the risk for heart disease

Excess blood sugar, a condition known as hyperglycemia, exposes diabetics to inflammation and other processes that cause organ damage. One of the ways that excess blood sugar stimulates inflammation is by causing the formation of Advanced Glycation Endproducts (AGEs). AGEs are a bit like sugar by-products that attach to the body’s proteins, including essential enzymes and structural protein scaffolds, and cause them to malfunction.

Both AGEs and excess blood sugar are pro-inflammatory. As a result, diabetics are at a greater risk of developing atherosclerotic plaques and devastating organ damage including potentially fatal heart conditions.

See your doctor

If you are diabetic and feel you are having the symptoms associated with heart disease such as angina, it is important to see a doctor and not to put it off. Dr. Zack Charkawi at Johns Creek Family Medicine encourages all prospective and current patients with concerns about diabetes or heart disease to make an office appointment. Patients throughout greater metropolitan Atlanta, including Johns Creek, Suwanee, Alpharetta, Roswell, Cumming, Roswell, Dawsonville, Duluth, and beyond should call Dr. Charkawi today at 770-771-6591.

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