Diabetes and Your Heart: the Connection - Mercy Medical Center

Diabetes and Your Heart: the Connection

Posted on: March 12, 2019

How heart disease and diabetes are connected | Canton MercyIf you or someone you love has been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, managing common symptoms like fatigue and increased hunger may be your most immediate concern.

What you may not be aware of, however, is that heart disease and stroke are also linked to diabetes. Health experts want patients to make that connection, because adults with type 2 diabetes are two to four times more likely to have heart disease or a stroke compared with adults who do not have diabetes, according to the American Heart Association.

Need help managing diabetes? Learn more about Mercy Diabetes Education >>

Physicians urge patients with diabetes and prediabetes to stay up-to-date on their screenings for both their diabetes treatment and heart disease. Because type 2 diabetes is a “silent killer” that can take 10 years to fully develop, screening is essential since so many patients are unaware they have the disease. A fasting blood sugar over 125 (fasting plasma blood glucose level over 125 mg/ dL) would give you a diagnosis, but it should be followed up with a second test. The current recommendation is to start having a blood test for blood glucose at age 45.

People with a family history of type 2 diabetes or who are Asian American, African American or Native American and women who had gestational diabetes or gave birth to a large child should be checked at younger ages.

When type 2 diabetes is diagnosed, doctors often treat patients as if they’ve already had a heart attack even if they haven’t. That means aggressively addressing high blood glucose levels, blood pressure and cholesterol.

In fact, patients who have both hypertension and diabetes are at double the risk for cardiovascular disease, according to the AHA. In addition, having low HDL (“good”) cholesterol, high LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and high triglycerides is an unhealthy combination often found in people with diabetes and is linked to coronary heart disease.

Patients with diabetes should monitor their blood sugar levels, get more exercise (even if it doesn’t mean a gym routine), quit smoking if that’s a habit, and work with their physicians to get their cholesterol and blood sugar levels down.

Request an appointment with a Mercy Cardiovascular Institute physician >>

Cooking to Reduce Risk of Heart Disease

Spaghetti with Spiced Oyster Sauce

Oysters are high in protein, low in fat, and have high levels of selenium, a mineral which may reduce your risk of heart disease.


4 ounces whole wheat spaghetti
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large shallot, chopped
1 celery stalk, trimmed and chopped
5 giant pimiento-stuffed olives, cut crosswise into 2 or 3 slices
2 anchovies, well-drained and chopped
1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 (3.7- to 4-ounce) can smoked oysters, well drained
Grated rind of 1 lemon


Bring a large pot of salted water to a full boil. Add spaghetti and cook until tender but firm at the center, about 10 minutes. While spaghetti is cooking, spread pine nuts in large dry skillet. Toast over medium-high heat for 1 to 2 minutes or until light golden brown, shaking skillet frequently. Immediately remove pine nuts and set aside. Heat oil in skillet. Add shallot and celery and cook over medium-high heat for 3 to 5 minutes or until shallot is tender. Stir in olives and anchovies. Mash anchovies to a paste. Stir in tomatoes, paprika, red pepper flakes and pepper. Cook for 1 minute over medium heat or until tomatoes are pulpy. Drain spaghetti well, reserving 2 tablespoons pasta cooking water. Stir spaghetti and water into tomato mixture. Cook over high heat for 1 minute to evaporate excess liquid. Stir in pine nuts, oysters and lemon rind. Toss gently but well. Season with salt to taste.

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