February is designated as American Heart Month. Heart disease is often a complication of uncontrolled/poorly controlled diabetes. Lifestyle changes, healthy food choices, and even lowered stress levels improve heart health. Compliance with diabetic medications and testing blood sugars enhance the quality of life for a person with diabetes.
Knowledge is power, so it is important to know the signs and symptoms of a heart attack. Seeking emergency care during a heart attack will give you the best chance at lifesaving interventions and lower the risk of long term complications.
Signs and symptoms of heart disease (as well as a possible heart attack (“myocardial infarction”) may include any of the following:
- Chest discomfort, palpitations/ erratic or rapid heart beats
- Discomfort in other areas, especially in the upper part of the body
- Shortness of breath/ difficulty breathing
- Diaphoresis (“cold sweats”)
- Nausea and vomiting, fatigue
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
In addition, women report having somewhat different symptoms associated with a heart attack:
- Chest discomfort is often described as a squeezing pressure, or fullness in chest area
- Pain in both arms, jawline, or stomach and back area
Until proven otherwise, assume that a heart attack is occurring, and seek emergency care. Time equals (saved) heart muscle, as the saying goes, and the sooner medical treatments are rendered, the more likely a full recovery can occur. According to the American Heart Association , “at least 68% of people with diabetes aged 65 and older die of some form of heart disease and 16% die from stroke”. Thus, it is important to prevent/manage diabetes successfully.
When it comes to managing a chronic medical condition, such as diabetes, simple lifestyle changes can positively impact overall health and lower the risk of complications (such as heart disease). Choose a few examples, start slow, increase your efforts, and watch your overall health improve.
- Incorporate activity into your daily routine. Aim for 150 minutes weekly ( 30 minutes/ 5x a week). Aim for stress free low impact activities such as walking, swimming, biking, yoga.
- Smoking cessation; alcohol moderation; weight loss ( if applicable);
- Lowered salt intake ( read food labels and learn sodium content and portion size)
- Proper sleep- 7 hours on average- will also lower stress and fatigue levels during waking hours
For more information on living with diabetes, visit your local chapter of the American Diabetes Association. Visit their websites, open dialogue with your healthcare provider, get educated and empowered!