By: Lisa Robertson
After my recent heart attack, it got harder to keep my diabetes under control. No matter how hard I try, I’m always struggling with my sugar levels these days. Checking them at every meal and at bedtime is a job, but it keeps me healthy and alive. So many people I know have died from diabetes, in part because they failed to do the daily maintenance that came with controlling their condition.
When I was told that I have coronary artery disease, I was baffled. After all, I am only 36, and CAD is a condition of the elderly, or so I thought. The heart specialist, however, let me know that anyone may be susceptible to the condition. Coronary artery disease is caused by a buildup of plaque in the arteries of the heart. Uncontrolled blood sugar levels increase the risk of heart attack because the sugar in the blood damages blood vessels throughout the body, including the heart.
Reducing the amount of meat you eat and replacing it with other proteins, like peanuts, kelp, nori, hummus, and black beans, will reduce your chances of plaque buildup. If you have diabetes, it’s a good idea to get a physical every six months because your risk of heart disease is increased. Remember to get your lab results every three months so that if there is a problem, it can be detected early. And ask questions when you go to the doctor. Many of us are embarrassed, forget, or simply don’t think to ask.
It’s true that those with diabetes are more likely to have problems with hypertension, but did you know that prolonged uncontrolled hypertension increases your chances of developing diabetes by 50 percent? Uncontrolled hypertension not only makes your heart work much harder, but it can also harden the arteries over time. Extreme hypertension can cause stroke, an irregular heartbeat, and heart attack.
I struggle every day to keep my blood pressure and blood sugar at an acceptable level. Eating a proper diet and exercising regularly is a life-saving necessity. To reduce my risk of complications, I’ve learned to reduce my sodium intake, limit daily stress, check my blood pressure regularly, and get at least 30 minutes of exercise three to four times a week. I’ve also learned the symptoms of elevated blood pressure, such as headache, pain in the eyes, feeling faint, vision problems, and Irregular heartbeat.
Although maintaining all my conditions is a challenge, doing it each and every day helps me stay as healthy as possible for my family and myself. I have my ups and downs like everyone, but ensuring that I’m around to meet my grandchildren is important to me. Seeing the smiles of my children each morning gets me up and going. We must take care of our health no matter how complex it seems. Remembering that our conditions can be managed gives us hope of a long healthy life.