Lifestyle Transformation
Reduces The Risk of Both
Diabetes and Coronary Heart Disease

Diabetes and coronary heart disease share common genetic background and multiple risk factors. In fact, more than 60% of deaths from CHD happen in diabetic patients. Coronary heart disease related complications and deaths are two to four times more common in people with diabetes than in those without diabetes. Diabetic patients suffer heart disease at an earlier age than the other group. And, diabetic women are at equal risk for heart disease and heart attack as men are. In non-diabetic group women are relatively at lower risk than men.

Both diabetes and coronary heart disease are by and large lifestyle related disease and can be better managed by controlling and reversing modifiable risk factors like overweight / obesity, high blood pressure (hypertension), high cholesterol and smoking. Regular aerobic physical activity helps in managing most of the risk factors mentioned above. Drug based approach is recommended only if the non-drug approach proves ineffective in controlling accepted blood levels of sugar, lipids (cholesterol and lipoproteins) and blood pressure.

Levels of blood sugar are closely related with cardiac events – angina and myocardial ischemia (MI) or heart attack. Higher blood sugar levels – specially fasting plasma sugar (FPG) – proportionately increase the risk of deaths from heart attack. This is truer in type 2 diabetes than type 1. Interestingly both type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease can be effectively controlled and reversed by comprehensive lifestyle changes.

To reduce the risk of coronary heart disease in diabetics it is recommended:

1. To diagnose diabetes in undetected cases

Of all the cases of diabetes, type 1 is present in some 10% of cases. Rest 90% do have type 2 diabetes. Type 2 evolves slowly and over a long time. Very often it goes undetected in the initial stages and comes to notice only when complications like angina, heart attack, kidney disease (diabetic nephropathy) and neuropathy arise.

Therefore it is prudent for everyone above the age of 45 years to undergo Fasting Plasma Sugar now and then every 3 years. Those having higher risk of disease must have the test as early as 25 and then more frequently to enable early diagnosis and proper management.

2. Weight Reduction for obese/overweight people.

More than 90% of type 2 diabetics – both adults and young – are either obese or overweight. Obesity causes and aggravates hypertension and dyslipidemias and is responsible for increased insulin resistance. Increased insulin resistance multiplies the risk for both diabetes and coronary heart disease.

For this reason, appropriate weight reduction is the key factor in reducing the risk of diabetes and coronary heart disease. Dietary management and regular aerobic exercise are indispensable elements of weight reduction regimen. This also helps in bringing down of high blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

3. Regular Aerobic Exercise

Even few minutes of regular exercise every day improves the glucose utilization by the body and insulin resistance. Bad cholesterol (LDL and VLDL) decreases and good cholesterol levels (HDL) significantly increases. Blood pressure levels also return towards normal acceptable range. Besides these direct beneficial effects – exercise is one of the best stress buster and boosts up the immunity and healing response of the body by thousands of yet-unidentified biochemicals.

Regular aerobic exercise favorably affects hypertension, diabetes and coronary heart disease.

4. Stopping Smoking

Smoking is one of the most dangerous risk factor for causing atherosclerosis – process behind the curtains in diabetes and coronary heart disease and other peripheral vascular disorders. Diabetes is known to aggravate atherosclerosis process. Thus Diabetes and smoking together multiply the risk for CHD and heart attack several times.

For women, smoking is even more risky because it leads to an early menopause. Resulting low levels of estrogens are closely related with heart attacks. If you are smoking – you will do a ton of favor if you drop cigarette from your life now. You will get an important edge in controlling - even reversing - diabetes and coronary heart disease. Take help if necessary. Involve friends and family. Seek counseling. Hypnosis helps several people with only few sessions. There are some excellent drug-based options also, if needed, to bridge the difficult time of transition from going to smoking to not smoking.

5. Nutritional Supplements

Bountiful of micronutrients and vitamins are available to you if you regularly consume a whole grain predominantly fruit and vegetable diet that is high in fiber.


If you are serious about your health – let go of the animal foods –meat, eggs and dairy. Human body-engine is not made to run on animal fat and protein. All evidences in your body loudly prove that this engine needs vegetarian fuel. Go against the nature and nature condemns you with scores of diseases like obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and heart disease. Health enhancing benefits of right food can never be put even in handful of tablets and capsules.


A good quality, low dose multivitamin is recommended. Specifically supplementing folic acid, vit b6 and b12 is beneficial. Antioxidants like vit E, vit c and CoQ 10 have a promising role. Magnesium is found to have a salubrious effect.

6. A comprehensive program to manage stress

Just imagine a little boil at your back or hip or for that matter at any part of your body. Or a toothache. Trivial thing like a boil or a toothache has the power to keep you restless for the whole night. Ever wonder why a critical event like a heart attack be silent? Silent heart attack is common especially in diabetics and women. Naturally diabetic women are the preferred victims of silent heart attack.

My take on the mystery of silent heart attack is that it is not silent but unheard. When you lose self awareness – that little voice – that is your inbuilt guide and abandon yourself to the dictates of ‘external’ drives and compulsions – you miss many important, vitally important, messages from your body. Things as critical and as vital (or fatal – if you prefer) as heart attack can go unheard. A silent, sudden death or an unrecognized damage to the heart muscle is the outcome of a silent heart attack.

A few minutes of yoga and meditation can go a long way in reawakening your self awareness. Your body knows what is just right for you – the food, exercise, your work and relation. Your body knows more about your life than you are ready to give it credit for. In any given situation it knows more than your ‘mind’ knows. Yoga and meditation reawakens the sensitivity in your body so that you can listen to it. It creates that silence which is necessary to listen to the small voice within you – to listen to your heart .

7. Achieving and maintaining acceptable blood sugar levels, lipids and blood pressure

If the above mentioned lifestyle modifications fail to achieve healthy and acceptable levels of fasting plasma sugar, cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure – you might need to go on medication. Your doctor will choose the medicines according to your risk profile and blood levels.

If you continue to live with healthy lifestyle you can rest assured of diminishing your risk of diabetes and coronary heart disease. Risk of premature death from a heart attack and other diabetic complications goes down pretty quickly. At the same time your dependence on medication will reduce significantly. For this reason, you must be in regular touch with your physician so that medication can be reduced when your abnormal parameters start returning towards healthier end as a result of intelligent changes in root causes that are often hidden in the lifestyle choices you make.

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