“Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in patients with diabetes, and diabetes is the leading cause of heart disease in America,” said Dr. Alan Garber, professor of medicine in the section of endocrinology at BCM.
To reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, patients with diabetes must maintain an exceptionally low level of LDL cholesterol, the “bad” cholesterol, and a lower target blood pressure.
To do this, they must incorporate a heart healthy diet with their diabetes diet of low calories and sugars. A heart healthy diet includes reducing saturated fats.
“Maintaining cholesterol and blood pressure levels is a must for patients with diabetes, “Garber said. “It’s critical that they get hold of this.”
Garber also says that medication is key in helping control diabetes, cholesterol and blood pressure.
“Diet and exercise help, but statin drugs should be used to help control high cholesterol, and medication for high blood pressure should also be taken,” said Garber.
Garber recommends checking with your physician before starting an exercise routine, and working closely with the physician to develop a treatment plan.
In terms of diabetes, Garber says that by the time someone is diagnosed with the disease, they only have half of their pancreatic insulin secretion capacity, so medication is required for what the pancreas can no longer do.