Combat diabetic complications with your health team
While diabetics or people with diabetes will not die of the disease, they will die from complications such as kidney failure and stroke. Diabetes is also the leading cause of nontraumatic lower-limb amputation, and the leading cause of new cases of blindness in adults.
What is alarming is that diabetics are two to four times more likely to develop cardiovascular disease. Two out three people with diabetes will die from cardiovascular disease, with 20 percent of such deaths due to heart attacks.
According to Dr. Ariel Miranda, director of the Cardinal Santos Cardiovascular Institute, cardiovascular disease and diabetes are intimately related in that heart failure is an “underappreciated” complication of diabetes and is very common among diabetics.
“In fact, the probability of developing heart failure is greater than the probability of suffering from a heart attack,” he said. “Once a diabetic develops heart failure, he has a very poor five-year survival rate.”
Patients with heart failure complain of easily getting tired, shortness of breath, inability to lie flat in bed and edema or swelling of the legs.
“One of the functions of the heart is the pumping. If the pumping function is impaired, then the ability of the heart to pump blood through the body will also decrease. This is called a heart failure with reduced performance,” Dr. Miranda explained.
Heart failure happens when the heart is pumping normally but is unable to relax, and therefore the blood will tend to pool in the lungs. When a person suffers a heart attack, the muscle is replaced by scar tissue.
“With the new understanding of heart failure, we come to realize that not all heart failure patients have reduced performance. Some have normal or mildly reduced performance,” Dr. Miranda said.
The Philippines belongs to a multimorbidity group labeled as metabolic, or there is a high prevalence of obesity, hypertension and diabetes. The incidence of heart failure in the Philippines is 1-2%, similar to the worldwide prevalence of heart failure.
Statistics show that of the 60.3 million Filipino adults, 6.3 percent have diabetes or approximately 3.7 million. Thirty-eight percent will die early or before they reach their 60th birthday. The main problem is that approximately 1.9 million Filipinos do not know they have diabetes. More than 50 percent of patients admitted into the intensive care units are diabetics, and most of the time, they do not know they are diabetic.
While there are some things that are beyond control, a diabetic can take steps to reach his full health potential, adding years to his life and improving his quality of life. The American Heart Association offers these simple tips to combat diabetes and its complications like heart failure:
- Choose a healthy lifestyle. By managing your weight through proper nutrition and regular physical activity, quitting smoking and finding healthy ways to deal with stress, a diabetic can prevent or delay the onset of diabetes or minimize its impact on your body. A healthy lifestyle will also reduce the risk of developing a host of other medical conditions.
- Know your health numbers. Through home monitoring and regular visits with your health care provider, you can keep track of your blood sugar, blood pressure, blood cholesterol and weight. These critical numbers provide insight on how well your treatment plan is working to manage your diabetes and safeguard your overall health, including that of your heart.
- Work with your health care team. Since diabetes can have multiple health implications (effects on your vision, your feet and legs and your heart) and since treating it can require special medications and a special diet, your health care team may include a number of medical professionals with various specialties. Your team can guide you to implement a comprehensive plan to treat diabetes and minimize its effects.
You can live a full life even if you have diabetes. You just have to live healthy and regularly visit your doctor.
About the Author:
Anne Ruth Dela Cruz is a seasoned writer who has interests in health, wellness and business start ups. She has also dabbled in corporate communications and public relations. A mother of four, Anne also loves videoke sessions and reading a good book. My posts appear on: Negosentro, World Executives Digest, Executive Chronicles, Get Health Access, and Trade & Travel Journal.