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Diabetes & Heart Disease – How Are They Linked?

The Long Island Heart Associates has recently brought a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) on board as part of their practice. But what is a Certified Diabetes Educator? And what does diabetes have to do with heart health?

Diabetes and Heart Disease

While it would not be accurate to say that diabetes causes heart disease, it is safe to say that the two are strongly linked. Diabetes is considered a risk factor for a wide variety of cardiovascular problems, including hypertension (high blood pressure), heart attack, and stroke. In fact, a person with diabetes is more than twice as likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke compared to his or her non-diabetic counterpart.

So, why are people with diabetes at an increased risk of heart disease? The reason for this is because of the effect that diabetes has on the cardiovascular system. Those with diabetes have high levels of blood glucose (sugar) because the body cannot process it correctly. Over time, high glucose levels in the blood can cause damage to blood vessels, either by leaving fatty deposits on the vessel walls (blockage) or by weakening the lining of the vessel walls. This kind of damage can easily interfere with circulation, which can lead to heart problems like heart attack, stroke, atherosclerosis and microangiopathy.

Diabetes in New York

Some of the statistics for diabetes-related deaths and hospitalizations in New York are startling. For example, according to the New York State Department of Health, there are currently over 1 million New Yorkers who have been diagnosed with diabetes–and potentially an additional 450,000 who have diabetes, but remain diagnosed. This is more than double the number of people with diabetes in 1994. Nassau County, Long Island, ranks in the fourth quartile (the highest) for deaths caused by heart diseases per every 100,000 people. Additionally, Nassau County is ranked in the third quartile for hospitalizations caused by diabetes. How can we bring those numbers down? Prevention is key—we need to become educated on these diseases and learn how to reduce the risks.

Certified Diabetes Educator

Because of the high risk of cardiovascular problems, it is important for those with diabetes to carefully monitor their health. Eating right and getting proper exercise are important, but it is also necessary to have the help of a qualified physician. A Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) is a specially trained health care professional who helps those with diabetes to manage their condition. CDEs can screen patients to identify the potential health risks associated with diabetes, and then work in conjunction with a primary care physician to coordinate appropriate care.

If you have diabetes, your risk for heart disease increases dramatically. Don’t take chances. Speak with one of our New York cardiology associates today to discuss the possibility of seeing a certified diabetes instructor!

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