Prediabetes Increases Risk for Heart Disease
Heart disease and diabetes are closely linked. Many traits and medical conditions that lead to diabetes also lead to heart disease, a disorder that occurs when fat blocks blood vessels or arteries and deprives the heart of oxygen-rich blood, leading to a heart attack.
If you have prediabetes, the early stage of type 2 diabetes, you may already be developing the traits and conditions that put you at risk for heart disease. Diabetes and heart disease both take years to develop, but can be reversed with preventive measures.
Having any of the following risk factors increases your chances of developing heart disease and diabetes:
- High LDL cholesterol. LDL (“bad”) cholesterol is a blood fat that collects inside the blood vessels, causing them to narrow and harden.
- Too much visceral fat. Fat in the abdomen around your internal organs increases the production of LDL cholesterol. If you are a man with a 40-inch waist or greater, or a woman with more than a 35-inch waist, you likely have a dangerous level of visceral fat.
- High triglycerides. Triglycerides are another type of blood fat, and contribute to heart disease at high levels. Levels over 150 mg/dL are considered high.
- Low HDL cholesterol. HDL (“good”) cholesterol removes bad fats from the blood vessels by taking them to the liver to be processed. Levels below 40 mg/dL in men and 50 mg/dL in women are considered low.
- High blood pressure. Also called hypertension, high blood pressure causes your heart to work harder to pump blood. Systolic blood pressure under 130 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure under 85 mmHg is preferred.
- Elevated fasting glucose levels. High blood sugar leads to diabetic complications that promote heart disease. You want a fasting blood sugar level under 85 mg/dL.
- Smoking. Smoking causes blood vessels to narrow, making it more difficult to supply blood to the heart.
Many people with prediabetes are developing these conditions and don’t know it, since symptoms are often invisible until it’s too late. If you have any of the listed health problems, you are at risk for both diabetes and heart disease.