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Keep your Diabetic Heart Healthy: Quit Smoking and Take up Swimming


In goes the last morsel of that creamy cake and out pours the flood of guilt. However, guilt trips over giving into the demands of their sweet tooth are not the only things diabetic patients have to worry about.

The Bitter Truth

Diabetic patients always have to be two steps ahead when it comes to the health of their heart. They are at least twice as likely to develop heart disease or stroke compared to their non-diabetic counterparts. Additionally, heart diseases in such cases tend to be much more serious and have a greater probability of resulting in death. They can even strike at a much younger age compared to those who do not suffer from diabetes. If the patient has already fought against a stroke or a heart attack before, the second instance of such problems might loom closer if due attention is not paid to cardiovascular health.

What Next?

Acknowledging that diabetes is not as trivial a health condition as it is often presumed to be is the first step towards preventing the risk of heart disease. Those who suffer from diabetes are often unable to point out any symptoms of poor heart health due to a condition where the heart rate remains the same while exercising, resting and sleeping. This, coupled with any nerve damage caused by diabetes, can even reduce the amount of pain felt during heart attacks resulting in the alarm bells ringing much later than is necessary. However, there is no need to despair. Even if the patient faces a high risk of developing heart problems, there are still methods to keep his/her heart and blood vessels healthy.

Good Food, Happy Heart

The importance of maintaining a healthy, balanced diet cannot be reiterated enough. Consulting a dietician or a nutritionist can help in charting out a well-structured diet plan that will take care of all of our nutritional requirements.

Food that is high in fibre — such as oatmeal, peas, fruits and vegetables, cereals and whole grain breads — should be included generously in meals and snacks as it helps reduce blood cholesterol levels. It is important to reduce or skip out on those foods that contain unhealthy amounts of trans fat and saturated fats as they increase the amount of bad cholesterol in our blood stream. While trans fats are commonly found in commercially prepared baked goods, cookies, cake mixes, microwaveable popcorn and food that contains partially hydrogenated oil, saturated fats can be found in meat, dairy products, lard and tropical oils such as those of palm and coconut.

These food items can be replaced with dishes and meals that have heart-healthy fats such as fish, nuts, seeds and avocados. Dessert servings — that are frequently high on sugar content — have to be reduced to two-three times a week. Anything that can be baked, boiled or grilled should escape the frying pan.

Pro Heart – Health Habits

Frequent, quick sessions of exercise that include swimming, dancing, walking or biking are highly beneficial as they keep the body fit and active.

The A1C test — which presents the average blood glucose levels over the past three months — can be taken along with regular blood pressure and blood cholesterol level tests as suggested by your doctor. Maintaining blood glucose, blood pressure and blood cholesterol at ideal levels will help prevent peripheral arterial disease.

The patient will also have to put a hard stop to smoking.

Finally, it is important to recognise any signs of heart problems such as shortness of breath, tiredness, fatigue, pain in the chest/upper body, or, in the case of women, nausea, vomiting or pain in the back, shoulders and jaws.

Living with diabetes need not be unpleasant. With strict diet control, will power, plenty of exercise and regular check-ups, ensuring that your heart is healthy and happy can be a piece of sugarless cake

Authored by : Dr. Srinivas Munigoti, Consultant Endocrinologist & Diabetologist 

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