You might think you have just one disease: Type 2 diabetes. But if it’s not managed properly, you could end up with a whole host of other problems. Heart disease, peripheral vascular disease, and stroke are all caused by clogged arteries, which are the blood vessels carrying oxygen to the heart, legs, feet, brain and other areas of the body. Having diabetes puts you at double the risk, or more, for developing these conditions. In fact, heart disease is the main killer of people with diabetes, and they get it earlier in life than those people without high blood sugar levels.
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Actually diabetes and major depressive disorders are both known risk factors for heart attacks. A group of researchers at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in St. Louis, Missouri set out to learn how having both Type 2 diabetes and depression might be associated with heart attacks.
Their study, published in the June 2011 issue of the journal Diabetes Care, used electronic medical records kept during the years 1999 and 2000. These records belonged to more than three hundred thousand veterans aged between 25 and 80.
They were divided into four groups:
- veterans with neither diabetes nor depression,
- those with diabetes and no depression,
- veterans with depression but without diabetes, and
- veterans with both conditions.
Results of the Study Revealed: The veteran patients with a major depressive disorder alone, or diabetes alone, had a 30 percent increased risk of heart attack, but those with both diabetes and depression had an increased risk of 80 per cent. Apparently diabetes and depression interact to make the risk of heart attack higher than both risks added together. It was therefore suggested by the researchers people with both diabetes and depression need to be monitored closely for heart and blood vessel disease.
Depressed people frequently are ready for “fight or flight”, tending toward more tone in certain nerves, and higher levels of the hormone cortisol. They have more inflammation, their platelets often form clots unnecessarily, and their blood vessels can malfunction. Type 2 diabetics often have increased levels of fats and cholesterol in their blood, allowing the coronary arteries, those that feed blood to the heart itself, to become clogged.
It is easy to see how the two conditions could interact to cause the coronary arteries to become sufficiently clogged so the heart would not be able to get enough oxygen and nutrients. This leads to a myocardial infarction, or heart attack.
if an electrocardiogram, or EKG, is abnormal, it can be the result of the heart’s inability to receive enough oxygen and energy due to narrowing of the coronary arteries,
an abnormal EKG is an indication for a stress test that shows a picture of the heart at work,
if an area of the heart is not getting enough blood, an angiogram can be performed.
The angiogram can show where there are blocked areas in the coronary arteries. Once a blockage is seen, it can be treated either with a stent, a device to open the vessel or, if the vessel is clogged along too much of its length, it can be replaced. The replacement procedure is called a coronary artery bypass graft (CABG). Veins are removed from the legs and put into the heart to serve as new coronary arteries. The new arteries continue to conduct blood for about 5 to 10 years.
Anyone with Type 2 diabetes, depression, or, especially both conditions, should be under the care of a cardiologist. Having heart and blood vessel problems diagnosed early can lower the chance of major surgery and/or prevent a heart attack.