The thing we need to remember most about diabetes is that it is manageable. It’s unpredictable, yes, but if you follow a plan you can live a long and happy life.
It’s that “following a plan” part that is often so hard, exhausting, stressful, inconvenient, and difficult for those living with diabetes.
That’s why it is so important to remember to re-connect with your self-care plan, make the changes and tweaks to your routine to get your diabetes in check, and follow-up on parts of your management that might have been overlooked.
ONE IS TOO MANY
Here’s a fact to wake you up: one in two people with type 2 diabetes will die of heart disease and, the reality is, even one life is too many. It’s time to prevent more lives from being lost to heart disease due to type 2 diabetes.
Most Canadians with type 2 diabetes feel they are knowledgeable about their diabetes management (93 per cent), but one in two have no idea having diabetes alone significantly increases the risk of heart attack, heart failure, and stroke.
Rhonda McCallum is one of the lucky ones: she’s taken time to discuss heart disease and type 2 diabetes with her nurse practitioner. Her current health is great, but her blood pressure can increase with stress.
My friend Stanley Williams had a heart attack this year. He doesn’t live with type 2 diabetes, but he did notice there was a “diabetes check-in” station at the exercise sessions when he was doing his rehab. He said “it was a visible reminder of the link between heart disease and diabetes.”
Studies show that people with diabetes may develop heart disease 10 to 15 years earlier than people without diabetes.
If you have type 2 diabetes and a history of heart disease, controlling your blood sugar alone may not be enough. The sooner you understand your risk, the sooner you can do something about it. That’s why it’s critical people living with type 2 diabetes understand the risks that come with diabetes.
RISK ASSESSMENT TOOL
Understanding your risk is easy with this risk assessment tool found at myheartmatters.ca.
Your family history can contribute a great deal to your risk for future health problems. Taking the quiz, and talking to your extended family about heart health and diabetes is an easy way to build up support and fine tune your management plan moving forward
After using the assessment tool, I found out my risks. With a family history of heart disease, and some cholesterol and weight numbers that tend to the high side, I’ve got a higher than average risk.
HEART HEALTH SOLUTIONS
It’s really simple, actually. Don’t smoke, stay active, eat healthy. Not all of us have managed to stick with that plan, but it’s important to try and get as close to it as possible especially when you have type 2 diabetes.
It was the shock of a type 2 diabetes diagnosis that caused Harry Flint, then a two pack a day smoker weighing over 300 pounds to make the changes he needed.
“I joined Team Diabetes in 2005 as a way of trying to improve my health,” says Flint. “Since then I’ve lost 100 pounds and stopped the smoking. Being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes saved my life.”
Harry is one of the reasons I’m so committed to Team Diabetes. I always have a race on my calendar to keep me active and thinking about my health. I’ve even included my family in the Team Diabetes pursuit, next year all four of us will be running a 10k together.
Rhonda finds that stopping and taking a moment to relax helps her manage her stress. She’s also joined Team Diabetes to stay healthy and keep on an exercise routine.
Diabetes Canada recommends people with diabetes ask their doctors about the ABCDEs of diabetes management. This mnemonic represents a set of important tips that may reduce their risk of heart disease.
Knowledge of the connection between diabetes and heart disease can be life saving. If you have type 2 diabetes, speak with your doctor about the steps you can take to help manage your risk of heart disease.
Visit myheartmatters.ca to learn more.