Individuals with diabetes are two to four times more likely to have a heart attack or stroke than those without the disease, an expert at Hamad Medical Corp (HMC) has said.
Prof Abdul-Badi Abou-Samra, chairman of Internal Medicine at HMC and director of the Qatar Metabolic Institute, said it is important that the public understands there is a strong link between diabetes and cardiovascular disease (CVD) and stroke.
“Diabetes is a major risk factor for heart disease. Almost two-thirds of patients with diabetes die from CVD,” said Prof Abou-Samra.
“Learning more about the link between heart disease and diabetes can be an important first step towards protecting your heart and better managing your diabetes.”
According to Prof Abou-Samra, it is particularly important that patients with diabetes, and those who are pre-diabetic, are aware of the factors that can put them at increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
“The key is the management of blood sugar levels and associated risk factors, particularly smoking, high blood pressure and elevated lipids. Over time, high levels of glucose in the bloodstream and the associated risk factors can damage the arteries. This, combined with a buildup of fatty material on the sides of blood vessels, can block blood flow to the heart or brain, leading to a heart attack or stroke,” said Prof Abou-Samra.
He went on to say that individuals with diabetes develop cardiovascular disease at a much earlier age than those without the condition, underscoring the importance of identifying one’s risk factors for developing diabetes.
Diabetics who smoke, have high blood pressure and high cholesterol or have a family history of cardiovascular disease or stroke are at higher risk.
“In addition to receiving effective treatment for diabetes, smoking cessation, blood pressure management and treatment of lipid disorders are all essential measures in helping to prevent heart disease in patients with diabetes,” said Prof Abou-Samra.
He said patients who have diabetes but have not been diagnosed are at the greatest risk.
“It is important to be screened for diabetes as the condition can be present without symptoms. Those who have a family history or are overweight should be screened through a fasted blood test,” added the specialist.
In recognition of World Diabetes Day, held annually on November 14, HMC has planned a full month of activities to highlight the importance of diabetes awareness, education and research.
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