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Artery Disease

High blood sugars increase the risk of artery disease.
Diseases of the artery affect many parts of the body. Such as hypertension, heart attack, high cholesterol, stroke and poor blood flow to the legs and feet. The common factor is the blood vessels (arteries and veins) that carry blood through the heart, brain and body.

A common cause of artery disease is atherosclerosis. This is also known as ěhardening of the arteries. This causes arteries or blood vessels to become narrowed or clogged. High blood sugar makes the blood even stickier and thicker. Click on the image for a larger view.

  • When arteries become rigid and inflexible it is called hypertension.
  • When the blood vessels that supply the heart donít get enough blood and oxygen, it leads to chest pain or a heart attack.
  • High cholesterol levels are the leading cause of clogged arteries.
  • When the arteries to the brain get clogged it can lead to a stroke.
  • When arteries get clogged in the lower extremities, it leads to poor blood flow to the legs and feet called peripheral vascular disease.

These artery diseases happen earlier in life to people with diabetes. Diabetic women lose their protective benefit of estrogen and have the same artery disease risk level of men. Artery disease is the most deadly, devastating and costly complication of diabetes. Even a 1% reduction in your HgbA1c can make a large decrease (35%) in your risk for artery disease.

You can prevent artery disease.

  • Keep your blood sugars under good control. Aim for blood sugars of 80mg/dl-120mg/dl before meals, and 100mg/dl-140mg/dl at bedtime.
  • Keep your Hemoglobin A1c (a 3 month average blood sugar test) at 7% or less.
  • Donít smoke
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Lose weight if needed. Losing even 10-20 pounds can help.
  • Exercise most days
  • Work with your health care team to lower cholesterol and blood pressure.

Your doctor may also advise you take certain drugs to help lower your risk of heart attack.

If you have further questions about artery disease, contact your diabetes healthcare team.