Diabetes is well known as being responsible for increasing a persons risk of heart disease (also called cardiovascular disease). Diabetes is a major factor in the development of developing hardening of the arteries (arteriosclerosis) and arterial plaque (atherosclerosis), blood clot formation, and microaneurysms in the smaller blood vessels (commonly called microvascular abnormalities). Another term used to describe heart and blood vessel complications in diabetes is diabetic angiopathy, which is also the most prevalent and best known form of angiopathy. Diabetes-related heart disease is the most frequent, costly and severe complication of diabetes and is the cause of sixty five to seventy percent of deaths in diabetics, killing two out of three.
A person that has diabetes is two to four times more likely to die from heart disease than someone that does not, and heart disease is the main cause of death among diabetics sixty-five or older, accounting for approximately sixty-eight percent of all deaths for diabetics in this age group. People that have diabetes are also commonly affected by other complications, such as kidney disease and neuropathy, that can increase their chances of developing heart disease and increased chance of heart attack. Also heart attacks among diabetics tend to be much more severe than an average person and are far more likely to result in death, and a diabetic that has experienced one heart attack has a greater risk of having a second heart attack.
Blood vessel damage and arterial blockage are two of the main culprits contributing to the development of complications of diabetes by causing a lack of oxygen and nourishment to the cells of the body from impeded blood flow. Another result of impeded blood flow is that the white blood cells that fight infection in the body will either be slowed in reaching the infected area or blocked entirely.
Coronary Artery Disease - Coronary artery disease refers to large blood vessels that carry blood to the heart. In coronary artery disease, large arteries supplying the heart become hard and narrow from a build up of plaques. Plaque buildup here can lead to blockages that impedes or prevents oxygen-rich blood from reaching the heart muscle which could lead to a portion of the heart muscle dying, causing a heart attack. Should someone with diabetes suffer a heart attack, it tends to be more serious and likely to result in death, than it would in someone without diabetes. Restricted or impeded blood flow to the heart may also trigger the chest pain called angina.
Macrovascular disease/Atherosclerosis/Arteriosclerosis - Macrovascular disease refers to large and mediums arteries. Arteriosclerosis and Atherosclerosis are often used interchangeably Arteriosclerosis is the general term used to describe the hardening or the loss of elasticity of any large or medium arteries. Atherosclerosis is a more specific type of arteriosclerosis that refers to the buildup of plaques on the artery walls, which leads to restricted blood flow. It is also possible for these plaques to burst, causing a blood clot. Atherosclerosis is commonly considered a heart problem, however it can affect arteries anywhere in the body. Although diabetes plays a major role, the damage from Arteriosclerosis/Atherosclerosis can also be caused by high blood pressure (hypertension), high cholesterol and irritation from smoking (nicotine) each of which are treatable and preventable.
Microvascular disease - Microvascular disease refers to smaller branches of the arteries, and smaller blood vessels. Smaller blood vessels affected by diabetes can weaken, causing them to develop balloon-like swellings called microaneurysms ( also called microvascular abnormalities). The walls of these blood vessels then leak, causing a disruption in the flow of oxygen and nourishment to tissues supplied by them, which can lead to the damage or death of those tissues. This condition is also the major contributing factor in the classic complications of diabetes.