Article by Dr. Manjunath Malige, Chief Endocrinologist and Diabetologist, Aster RV Hospital, JP Nagar, Bengaluru
Diabetes is a chronic illness in which your body’s normal mechanisms for managing blood sugar, also known as blood glucose levels, fail. Blood sugar levels rise as the meal is broken down by the body. Your body’s cells take the sugar into your circulation and utilize it for energy, done by a hormone called insulin. When your body doesn’t produce enough insulin or uses it inefficiently, your blood sugar levels will be higher than normal. Diabetes that is poorly managed can have severe implications, including damage to a variety of organs and tissues in your body, including your heart, kidneys, eyes, and nerves. Diabetes symptoms include: increased thirst, weakness, tiredness, blurred vision, numbness or tingling in the hands or feet, and so forth. Sores or wounds that heal slowly, Weight reduction that was not expected, frequent urination, unexplained illnesses, and dry mouth.
Diabetes-related high blood glucose levels can harm your blood vessels as well as the nerves that control your heart and blood vessels. Diabetes not only increases the risk of heart disease, but it also increases the chance of heart failure, a critical medical condition in which the heart is unable to efficiently pump blood. This can induce fluid build-up in the lungs, causing trouble breathing, or fluid retention in other regions of the body, causing swelling of legs. While all diabetics are at a higher risk of having heart disease, type 2 diabetics are more likely to acquire the ailment. In fact, heart disease is the leading cause of mortality among type 2 diabetics. Some of the symptoms of heart attack are shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, excessive and inexplicable perspiration, feeling faint, feeling dizzy, suffering from pain in the shoulders, jaw, and left arm, nausea, chest discomfort or pressure.
The good news is that taking efforts to control your diabetes reduces your risk of developing heart disease or stroke.
Steps to manage diabetes:
· Healthy nutrition is an essential component of having a healthy lifestyle, whether you have diabetes or not. However, if you have diabetes, you must understand how meals impact your blood sugar levels- Carbohydrates have the greatest influence on blood sugar levels. It is critical for people who use mealtime insulin to understand the quantity of carbs in their diet so that they receive the correct insulin dosage. Some carbs are better for you than others, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. These meals are low in carbs and high in fiber, which helps to stabilize your blood sugar levels. Too little meals in relation to your diabetes treatments, particularly insulin, might result in dangerously low blood sugar levels (hypoglycaemia). Too much food may cause your blood sugar level to rise too high, therefore both should be coordinated properly and its best to avoid sugar- sweetened beverages.
· Physical activity is another critical component of your diabetes control strategy- your muscles utilize sugar (glucose) for energy while you work out. Regular physical exercise also aids your body’s usage of insulin. Before you begin exercising, consult with your doctor about what form of activity is good for you and what blood sugar levels are appropriate for you. In general, most individuals should engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise every week. On most days of the week, aim for 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity. When exercising, drink plenty of water or other fluids to avoid dehydration, and keep a small snack or glucose tablets on hand in case your blood sugar dips too low.
· When diet and exercise alone are insufficient for treating diabetes, insulin and other diabetic medicines are used to reduce blood sugar levels. The success of these drugs, however, is dependent on the time and quantity of the dose. Medications used to treat illnesses other than diabetes might potentially have an impact on your blood sugar levels. Always report and consult your doctor.
· Diabetes issues such as nerve damage and eye disease might be exacerbated by alcohol. However, if your diabetes is under control and your doctor approves, an occasional alcoholic beverage is fine. To avoid low blood sugar, eat before you drink or drink with a meal if you take insulin or other diabetic drugs. Before going to sleep, check your blood sugar levels. Have a snack before night if your blood sugar level isn’t between 100 and 140 mg/dL (5.6 and 7.8 mmol/L).
· When you’re anxious, the chemicals your body creates in reaction to the stress may cause your blood sugar level to rise. Fight back once you’ve figured out how stress affects your blood sugar. Learn how to relax, prioritize your responsibilities, and establish limitations. Avoid common stresses wherever possible. Exercise can typically help reduce stress and blood sugar levels.
How to prevent heart disease with diabetes:
· Maintain blood sugar levels as much as possible.
· Keep your blood pressure under control, and use medication as needed. Diabetes patients should aim for less than 130/80.
· Take control of your cholesterol levels. To accomplish this, you may need to take medicine.
· If you’re fat, you should lose weight.
· Consult your doctor to determine if you should take an aspirin daily.
· Regular physical activity is essential.
· Consume a heart-healthy diet, such as the Mediterranean or DASH diets.
· Smoke no more.
· Lessen your daily stress by working to reduce it.