Diabetes is characterized by high blood sugar (glucose) also called hyperglycemia, which is very damaging to blood vessels, and the smaller the blood vessels are the more vulnerable they are to damage. High blood sugar increases deposits of fat within blood vessels and arteries slowing blood flow, and over time these deposits can develop into plaques that further thicken the walls of the blood vessels. Ruptures of these plaques can occur, causing the immune system cells to initiate the clotting process at the location of the rupture, creating a blood clot that obstructs blood flow. This can all take years to occur or for any complications to appear, and when they do they are usually serious.
Diabetes & heart disease are a bad combination, but you don't need to have diabetes to develop heart disease, however diabetes can greatly increase the risk of it. There are other factors besides or in conjunction with diabetes that can affect the chances of someone developing heart disease. Some of these factors are interconnected and are commonly referred to as Metabolic Syndrome. Metabolic Syndrome refers to a cluster of conditions that commonly occur simultaneously, which lead to or greatly increase a persons chances of developing cardiovascular disease. These conditions are more likely to occur in adults and in type 2 diabetics, however in recent years it has been seen to occur in teens and even younger children.
• High blood sugar/Poorly Controlled Diabetes - Another contributing factor in heart disease is when someone poorly manages their diabetes over a period of years by failing to properly monitor and manage blood sugar (glucose) levels. As well as maintaining a proper diet to keep cholesterol levels under control increasing their risk of developing heart disease.
• High Blood Pressure - Hypertension causes the heart to work much harder than it should and as mentioned above, it increases pressure on already weakened blood vessels, which can causes them to expand or even burst. It can damage the coronary arteries and can damage blood vessels supplying the brain which can lead to stroke. High blood pressure is a major contributing factor in other complications of diabetes as well, such as retinopathy, neuropathy and nephropathy speeding their development. Seventy-five percent of adults with diabetes have blood pressure greater than 130/80 millimeters of mercury.
• High Cholesterol and High Triglycerides - Triglycerides are the most common type of fat in your body and play an important role in metabolism as a major source of energy and transporters of dietary fat. Cholesterol is necessary for the body to make hormones and build cell walls. Excessive levels of blood fats, specifically LDL (Low-Density Lipoprotein) cholesterol, more commonly known as the �bad cholesterol�, have been linked to the development of heart disease, hardening of the arteries (arteriosclerosis), and arterial plaque (arteriosclerosis).
• Hyperlipidemia - Hyperlipidemia is a relatively unknown term to most people, but it is used to describe the elevation of blood fats in the body, which may be an elevation of cholesterol, triglycerides or both.
• Central Obesity/Obesity - Central obesity refers to excessive fat deposits/weight around a persons midsection, more commonly referred to as belly fat. Someone that is said to have central obesity would be a man with a waist measurement of more than forty inches(102 cm) or a woman with more than thirty five inches(89 cm). Additionally abdominal fat is known to be a factor in raising the production of LDL cholesterol, which has been identified as the primary type of fat deposited on blood vessel walls that increases the risk of heart disease. Central obesity is known to predispose individuals for insulin resistance which is also a characteristic of type 2 diabetes. The two main causes of central obesity are a sedentary lifestyle and overeating.
• Family history of heart disease - Some people are at a greater risk for heart disease and stroke due to having a family history of heart disease. Unfortunately this is a factor that cannot be avoided, however preventative measures such as certain changes in lifestyle and diet will significantly help to reduce or control its development.
• Smoking can cause heart disease - Smoking is a major contributor to many complications of a persons health even without diabetes. In diabetes, smoking can affect the heart and blood vessels by increasing blood sugar levels which causes damage blood vessels, increases blood fat levels (such as cholesterol) that can build on blood vessel walls raising the risk of heart attack, and by constricting blood vessels which impedes blood flow and reduces oxygen to tissues of the body (including the heart). Smoking can be a major factor in the risk of developing the other classic complications of diabetes, such as retinopathy(eye damage), neuropathy(nerve damage), and nephropathy(kidney disease).