At the heart of the matter
Everyone thinks of February as the month of Valentine’s Day, but let’s not forget it’s also Heart Month!
A few quick facts
- Most people living with diabetes are unaware of their risk of heart disease.
- Compared to adults that do not live with diabetes, adults living with diabetes are two to four times more likely to suffer from heart disease or a stroke.
- Two-thirds of adults living with diabetes have high blood pressure, which is a risk factor for heart disease, heart attacks and strokes.
- When blood sugar is too high, it can damage blood vessels and coronary arteries.
- You can greatly reduce the risks of heart disease by making changes to your lifestyle and diet.
Recognizing the symptoms to respond better
Whether or not you’re at risk of having a heart attack or stroke, it’s important to know how to spot the warning signs so you can get help—or help someone else—quickly. Please note that the following symptoms are not exhaustive and can vary from one person to another. For example, women may experience less severe symptoms than men. However, this doesn’t mean that the heart attack or stroke is less serious. When in doubt, call 911.
Symptoms of a heart attack
- Pain or discomfort in the center of the chest, which lasts several minutes or comes and goes; pressure, tightness, a clamping sensation, heaviness or gradual pain.
- Discomfort in other areas of the upper body such as the arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach.
- Shortness of breath, sometimes preceding chest discomfort.
- Cold sweat, nausea or light-headedness.
Symptoms of a stroke
- Numbness in the face, arms or legs, often on one side of the body.
- Confusion, trouble speaking or understanding.
- Difficulty seeing out of one or both eyes.
- Dizziness, trouble walking, loss of balance or lack of coordination.
- Major headache for no apparent reason.
The risk of heart disease is real for people living with diabetes—but that doesn’t mean it’s unavoidable. You can greatly reduce it by taking adequate measures and focusing on prevention. Being well informed helps you stay safe. Happy Heart Month!
For more information, see the For a healthy heart! capsule.
American Diabetes Association (n.d). Conquer High Blood Pressure. Retrieved from: https://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-risk/prevention/high-blood-pressure?re.... Accessed November 25 2020.
American Heart Association (n.d). Warning Signs of Heart Attack, Stroke and Cardiac Arrest. Retrieved from: https://www.heart.org/en/about-us/heart-attack-and-stroke-symptoms. Accessed November 25 2020.
Diabète Québec (2018). Glossaire. Retrieved from: https://www.preventiondiabete.ca/glossaire. Accessed November 25 2020.
Diabète Québec (n.d). Heart disease & stroke. Retrieved from: https://www.diabetes.ca/managing-my-diabetes/preventing-complications/he.... Accessed November 25 2020.
Heart & Stroke Foundation (n.d). Diabetes. Retrieved from: https://www.heartandstroke.ca/heart/risk-and-prevention/condition-risk-factors/diabetes. Accessed November 25 2020.
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestion and Kidneys Diseases (2017). Diabetes, Heart Disease and Stroke. Retrieved from: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/preventin.... Accessed November 25 2020.
Ontario (2019). Preventing and living with diabetes. Retrieved from: https://www.ontario.ca/page/preventing-and-living-diabetes. Accessed November 25 2020.
Public Health Agency of Canada (2009). How Do I Know if I’m Having a Heart Attack?. Retrieved from: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/chronic-diseases/cardiovascular-disease/know-having-a-heart-attack.html. Accessed November 25 2020.
Public Health Agency of Canada (2008). The Big Risk of Diabetes: Heart Disease. Retrieved from: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/chronic-diseases/diabetes/risk-diabetes-heart-disease.html. Accessed November 25 2020.
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