Diabetes and keeping your heart and blood vessels healthy

Heart and blood vessel problems can occur if you have high blood glucose (sugar) levels.

What do my heart and blood vessels do?

Your heart and blood vessels make up your circulatory system. Your heart is a muscle that pumps blood through your body. Your heart pumps blood carrying oxygen to large blood vessels (arteries), and small blood vessels (capillaries). Other blood vessels (veins), carry blood back to the heart.

How does high blood glucose affect my heart and blood vessels?

High blood glucose can cause hardening of the arteries (arteriosclerosis), which can lead to a heart attack, stroke or poor circulation in the feet.

High blood glucose can also thicken capillary walls and can cause small blood vessels to 'leak'. Together, these can reduce blood circulation to the skin, arms, legs and feet.

What can I do to help keep my heart and blood vessels healthy?

To keep your heart and blood vessels healthy, you can:

  • manage your diabetes;
  • monitor your blood glucose levels;
  • keep your blood pressure and cholesterol under control;
  • quit smoking;
  • reduce or eliminate stress;
  • exercise regularly;
  • eat healthy diet low in fat, cholesterol and sodium;
  • take your diabetes medication regularly and at the same time each day;
  • maintain a healthy weight; and
  • ask your family physician / nurse practitioner if you should be taking an aspirin (81 mg) each day to help with your blood flow.

For more information, visit the Diabetes Canada website

Published date: 
June 30, 2021
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