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At The Heart Of Diabetes

« WeCare Blog | March 24, 2023 |
Tips & Tricks Lifestyle
At The Heart Of Diabetes

Understanding the complications of seemingly unrelated conditions can be, well, complicated. For example, sleep apnoea is associated with dementia while arthritis can be related to inflammation of the eye. Like many other systemic conditions, it is well-known that there is a higher risk of long-term complications developing when you are living with diabetes. The goal of effective diabetes management is to prevent these complications from occurring. One of the most common long-term complication is heart disease,1,2 also called coronary artery disease (CAD). In fact, diabetes is an independent risk factor for CAD. This means that diabetes itself increases the risk that a person with this condition will develop CAD.3

Since February is heart month, now is a great time to start adopting healthy lifestyle habits and take the appropriate steps to manage your diabetes. Other than living with diabetes, risk factors for CAD include:

  • Smoking (a history of past smoking is also a risk factor)
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Obesity
  • A family history of heart disease

While there are some factors you can’t change (such as your family history), speak with your diabetes healthcare team about achievable ways you can lower your risk. In the meantime, here are some healthy habits you can cultivate to boost your heart health.

5 Habits For A Healthy Heart1,3

1. Quit smoking

This is definitely easier said than done. You may want to ask your diabetes healthcare team about strategies or support groups that can help you to achieve this.

2. Exercise regularly

Physical exercise does wonders for diabetes in more way than one. There are so many different forms of exercise, from brisk walking to high intensity interval training. Find an activity that motivates you and that you can enjoy. If you need help getting started, have a look at our Be Active. Stay Active and Exercising with Maria videos.

3. Manage your weight

Maintaining a healthy weight can benefit not only your heart health but your diabetes as well. If you need some help getting your weight back on track, your diabetes healthcare team can support you in finding that winning combination of exercise and healthy food choices.

4. Reduce your stress

Everyone experiences stress at some point. If you’re living with any type of diabetes, stress can sabotage your attempts at managing your blood glucose levels as well as push up your blood pressure. Think about what relaxes you and try to make time for stress-relieving activities during your week.

5. Get sufficient sleep

Being sleep deprived doesn’t feel great for a good reason. Catching yourself enough hours of restful sleep every night can help to lower those stress hormones and make you feel better overall the next day.

In some cases, your diabetes healthcare team may recommend you take medications to protect your heart health. It’s important to be open and honest with your healthcare team about any concerns you may have regarding your cardiovascular health and overall diabetes management, including any reservations around recommended tests or treatments. If the idea of assessing your heart health causes you some anxiety, remember that you can bring a trusted family member or friend to your appointments for support.

Final Thoughts

While living with any type of diabetes immediately adds a multitude of things to the to-do list, heart health should never be neglected. The best thing is that anything you do for your heart benefits you in so many other ways too, such as your emotional health and overall diabetes management. Take some time to reflect on how you can give your heart the tender loving care it deserves!


  1. American Diabetes Association. Cardiovascular Disease. 2021. Available at: (Accessed February 2022).
  2. DiMeglio LA, Evans-Molina C, Oram RA. Type 1 diabetes. Lancet. 2018;391(10138):2449-2462.
  3. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Diabetes, Heart Disease, & Stroke. 2021. Available at: (Accessed February 2022).