Diabetes—a disease that everybody’s heard about, but so few people understand. For Canadians living with type 2 diabetes, heart disease is the number one cause of death, with 50% of deaths due to some form of cardiovascular disease. Type 2 diabetes can reduce life expectancy by as much as fifteen years. You can help better manage combat diabetes through diet and exercise, sure, but if you have type 2 diabetes and a family history of heart disease, healthy lifestyle habits might not be enough to protect your heart. Through this post, I want to educate you all about diabetes (all opinions based on personal experience), and if you have type 2 diabetes, to inspire you to take an active role in protecting your heart.
Let me tell you some more!
What is diabetes?
Diabetes mellitus—or diabetes for short—is a metabolic disease that causes high blood sugar in your system. Normally, insulin moves sugar from your blood into your other cells to be stored for energy or used right away, but with diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t effectively use the insulin it has.
Diabetes commonly comes in two types: type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes.
- Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system attacks and destroys cells in the pancreas, the organ where insulin is made. About 10% of people with diabetes suffer from this type.
- Type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, happens when your body becomes resistant to insulin, which lets sugar build up in your blood.
The reason why I need to be aware of diabetes is that I have a family history of type 2 diabetes, with both my grandmothers currently suffering from it, and Black people are one of the ethnic groups who are at a higher risk of developing it. So I need to be careful that I live my life in a way to prevent type 2 diabetes from being isn’t part of my future health.
What causes diabetes?
Though no one’s sure what causes type 1 diabetes, you’re more likely to develop type 2 diabetes if you’re overweight, not physically active, or and are part of a higher risk ethnic group. Many people mistakenly believe that diabetes is directly linked to the amount of sugar you consume, but it’s only because sweetened food and drink have more calories and thus can contribute to weight gain if not consumed in moderation. So, it’s important to both keep active and to have a balanced diet to prevent developing type 2 diabetes in later years.
Now, that’s all good to know but what do you do if you are already diagnosed with prediabetes?
How can I tell if I have type 2 diabetes? What are the symptoms?
Diabetes symptoms are caused by rising blood sugar levels. The three most frequent symptoms of diabetes are called the three Ps of diabetes, and they often occur together.
The three P’s of diabetes:
- Polydipsia, or an increase in thirst
- Polyuria, or an increase in urination, and
- Polyphagia, or an increase in appetite.
These three are indicators of higher than normal blood sugar levels and should be addressed by a health care practitioner if you are exhibiting these symptoms. And there are other symptoms that can arise, including:
- Sudden, unexpected weight loss
- Blurry vision
- Extreme tiredness, and
- Sores that fail to heal.
If you’re a woman, possible additional diabetes symptoms could include:
- Urinary tract infections,
- Yeast infections, and
- Dry, itchy skin.
And if you’re a man, possible additional diabetes symptoms could include:
- A decreased sex drive,
- Erectile dysfunction, and
- Poor muscle strength.
How can we manage type 2 diabetes? My Heart Matters can show you the way!
Now—I know I’ve been all doom and gloom about type 2 diabetes, but if you have it, there’s still plenty you can do! In fact, research shows that along with a proper diet and exercise, there are medications that may reduce the threat of early death due to heart disease! If you look at many of the treatments, we’re already familiar with for type 2 diabetes, they focus on reducing conventional cardiovascular risk factors, like blood pressure and cholesterol, but they still leave those with type 2 diabetes at risk of death from heart disease. If you’re Canadian and you have type 2 diabetes, it may just be time to talk to your healthcare provider about treatments that can prevent early death due to cardiovascular disease. You can visit My Heart Matters to learn more!
Living with Type 2 Diabetes Doesn’t Have to be Impossible. Visit My Heart Matters Today!
While we’ve yet to find a cure for type 2 diabetes, the medical community is getting better at finding ways to manage it.
You can visit My Heart Matters to learn more about type 2 diabetes, heart health and more—living with diabetes doesn’t have to be impossible. Get yourself on the right path today!
All opinions expressed above are my own and from personal experience and research. This blog post was sponsored by two leading research-based pharmaceutical companies and My Heart Matters.