Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a disease of the heart and blood vessels. It is the most common cause of death for people with diabetes, both type 1 and type 2. It is sometimes referred to as a macrovascular disease, which refers to large blood vessels, such as those in the heart.
Lipids and cholesterol can build up along the walls of these blood vessels and lead to atherosclerosis, the narrowing, hardening, or clogging of blood vessels. Atherosclerosis is a common cause of CVD in people with diabetes and can lead to a myocardial infarction, which is commonly known as a heart attack.
The risk of CVD can be reduced by careful monitoring and regulation of blood pressure and blood lipids, such as low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, triglycerides, and high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. Smoking also increases CVD risk. Lifestyle changes and blood pressure medications can help people with diabetes meet their CVD risk reduction goals.
Recommended Risk Factor Levels for People with Diabetes (ADA)
Systolic Blood Pressure < 130 mmHg
Diastolic Blood Pressure < 80 mmHg
LDL cholesterol <100 mg/dl
Triglycerides <150 mg/dl
HDL cholesterol >40 mg/dl (men)
>50 mg/dl (women)
To learn more about cholesterol, check out this article: Too Much of a Good Thing
For an update on how blood glucose impacts heart health, check out this article: Early and Often