With more than 62 million individuals in India currently diagnosed with diabetes, it is fast gaining the status of an epidemic. India faces an uncertain future in relation to the potential burden that diabetes may impose upon the country. Its rising incidence is also a primary cause of the sudden surge in heart disease cases because of their direct relationship. It is crucial that awareness is raised on the occasion of World Diabetes Day so that this trend can be reversed and millions of lives be saved.
Lifestyle irregularities contribute to increased chances of diabetes, obesity and hypertension, which in turn increase the risk of heart disease and premature death. All these are co-related and its causes are common. It is a fact that the prevalence of diabetes in rural India is one-quarter that in urban India. The reason for this is the high-stress lives that urban Indians live. They exercise and sleep less, eat a primarily unhealthy, high trans-fat, salt and sugar-laden diet and resort to smoking and drinking as ways of dealing with high stress levels. Lifestyle modifications are crucial in order to eliminate disease risks and associated complications.
Speaking on the co-relation between diabetes and heart disease Dr. Ripen Kumar Gupta, Associate Director, Fortis Flt Rajan Dhall Hospital, Vasant Kunj, New Delhi said, “The primary cause of heart attacks is the build-up of a fatty substance called plaque that blocks the arteries responsible for transporting blood and oxygen to the heart. High amounts of sugar in the blood due to insulin resistance or diabetes often mark the onset of coronary atherosclerosis. Over time, plaque hardens and narrows the arteries. This reduces the flow of oxygen-rich blood to your heart muscle. Eventually the plaque can rupture causing clots and subsequent complete blockages triggering heart attacks. People who have type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance have higher levels of substances in the blood that cause blood clots. Blood clots can block the coronary arteries and cause a heart attack or even death. It, therefore, becomes important to raise awareness about how to curb diabetes and avoid heart attacks.”
Adding to this, Dr. Santosh Kumar Agarwal, Senior Interventional Cardiologist, Kailash Hospital & Heart Institute, Noida said, “Compared to non-diabetics, diabetics are two to four times more at risk of heart disease including heart attacks, heart failure, and cardiomyopathy. Vascular diseases which include diseases of the heart, kidney, intestines are recognized to be the primary cause of death amongst 80 percent of the diabetic patients. The higher a person’s blood sugar level, the higher he or she is at risk of getting diabetic heart disease (DHD). Patients suffering from diabetes hence must be extra cautious and regularly monitor their insulin levels. Also, people who have diabetic heart disease tend to have less success with some heart disease treatments, such as coronary artery bypass grafting and percutaneous coronary intervention, also known as coronary angioplasty. Diabetics can lower the risk of DHD by making a few lifestyle changes and taking prescribed medicines, which can help, prevent or control many risk factors.”
Physical activity can lower one’s blood pressure, help control the blood sugar level and one’s weight, and reduce stress. It’s also important to follow the treatment plan for diabetes and seeing the doctor for ongoing care. If one already has DHD, he/she must follow the treatment plan as their doctor advices. These can help them avoid or delay serious problems, such as a heart attack or heart failure.