How Do Healthcare Professionals Test For Heart Failure
Heart failure is most commonly assessed using medical imaging techniques that allow healthcare professionals to see the heart and assess its function. The most common test associated with heart failure is echocardiography which is a non-invasive, painless ultrasound image of the heart. The echocardiogram can show how thick the heart muscle is and how much blood is pumped out of the left ventricle with each beat. This information can be used to determine whether heart failure involves preserved or reduced ejection fraction.
Other imaging tests include an x-ray, an MRI, and a myocardial perfusion scan. An x-ray can see if the heart is enlarged or if there is fluid in the lungs, two signs of CHF. If your healthcare professional is concerned that there may be damage to the heart muscle or blockages of major blood vessels to the heart muscle, they may recommend an MRI. A myocardial perfusion scan uses a tiny amount of a radioactive substance that allows the heart to be imaged. It can show how well the heart muscle is pumping and areas with poor blood flow. This scan is often done with an exercise stress test .
In addition to these different imaging techniques, healthcare professionals use exercise stress tests as a measure of heart function, blood tests to check for heart failure-associated strain on the kidney and liver, or an electrocardiogram test to look at the hearts electrical activity for signs of a heart attack and to see if the heart rhythm is abnormal.
Cardiovascular Disease And Diabetes
The American Heart Association considers diabetes one of the seven major controllable risk factors for cardiovascular disease .
In fact, people living with Type 2 diabetes are two times more likely to develop and die from cardiovascular disease, such as heart attacks, strokes and heart failure, than people who dont have diabetes.
What Causes Heart Disease In People With Diabetes
The most common cause of heart disease in a person with diabetes is hardening of the coronary arteries or atherosclerosis, which is a buildup of cholesterol in the blood vessels that supply oxygen and nutrition to the heart.
When the cholesterol plaques can break apart or rupture, the body tries to repair the plaque rupture by sending platelets to seal it up.Ã Because the artery is small, the platelets could block the flow of blood, not allowing for oxygen delivery and a heart attack develops. The same process can happen in all of the arteries in the body, resulting in lack of blood to the brain, causing a stroke or lack of blood to the feet, hands, or arms causing peripheral vascular disease.
Not only are people with diabetes at higher risk for heart disease, they’re also at higher risk for heart failure, a serious medical condition in which the heart is unable to pump blood adequately. This can lead to fluid build-up in the lungs that causes difficulty breathing, or fluid retention in other parts of the body that causes swelling.
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How Do I Know If I Have High Blood Pressure
Theres only one way to know if you have high blood pressure: Have a doctor or other health professional measure it. Measuring your blood pressure is quick and painless.
Talk with your health care team about regularly measuring your blood pressure at home, also called self-measured blood pressure monitoring.
High blood pressure is called the silent killer because it usually has no warning signs or symptoms, and many people do not know they have it.
What Is High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is blood pressure that is higher than normal. Your blood pressure changes throughout the day based on your activities. Having blood pressure measures consistently above normal may result in a diagnosis of high blood pressure .
The higher your blood pressure levels, the more risk you have for other health problems, such as heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
Your health care team can diagnose high blood pressure and make treatment decisions by reviewing your systolic and diastolic blood pressure levels and comparing them to levels found in certain guidelines.
The guidelines used to diagnose high blood pressure may differ from health care professional to health care professional:
- Some health care professionals diagnose patients with high blood pressure if their blood pressure is consistently 140/90 mm Hg or higher.2 This limit is based on a guideline released in 2003, as seen in the table below.
- Other health care professionals diagnose patients with high blood pressure if their blood pressure is consistently 130/80 mm Hg or higher.1 This limit is based on a guideline released in 2017, as seen in the table below.
|systolic: 130 mm Hg or higherdiastolic: 80 mm Hg or higher|
If you are diagnosed with high blood pressure, talk with your health care team about your blood pressure levels and how these levels affect your treatment plan.
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What Should I Do To Protect My Heart If I Have Diabetes
People with diabetes are likely to have other medical conditions that impact your hearts health, including high cholesterol, high blood pressure and high triglycerides.
Whatever the approach to managing your diabetes, the overall goal is the same: Keeping your blood sugar, blood pressure, and lipids within a healthy range. By controlling these, you can dramatically reduce your risk of heart disease, blindness, kidney disease, amputations and other diabetic complications.
What Do Blood Pressure Numbers Mean
Blood pressure is measured using two numbers:
The first number, called systolic blood pressure, measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats.
The second number, called diastolic blood pressure, measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart rests between beats.
If the measurement reads 120 systolic and 80 diastolic, you would say, 120 over 80, or write, 120/80 mmHg.
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Diabetic Heart Disease Risk
Okay, so heart attacks are scary and awful and everyone should fear them. But why should a diabetes patient be more concerned about having “The Big One” than any other Tom, Dick, or Harriet on the street?
Because, compared to the general population, people with type 2 diabetes are two to six times more likely to have a heart attack. Furthermore, heart attacks tend to be fatal more often in diabetes patients. Scientists aren’t sure why diabetes seems to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, but some intriguing theories are taking shape.
For starters, virtually all patients with type 2 diabetes have developed resistance to their own insulin, so their pancreases keep churning out this critical hormone in an effort to herd glucose into cells. There is some scientific evidence that high levels of insulin in the blood cause damaging changes to the lining of blood vessels that lead to atherosclerosis.
The role of AGEs and elevated blood sugar in heart disease remains up for debate. Not up for debate is the link between diabetes and hypertension. Read the next section to learn more.
For more information on diabetes and its effect on the heart, try the following links:
- Discover practical tips for preventing heart disease at Home Remedies for Heart Disease.
Oral Health And Diabetes
People with poorly managed diabetes are at increased risk of tooth decay and gum infections. This is because the small blood vessels that help nourish your teeth and gums can become damaged. Poor oral care can cause the gums to become inflamed and loosen around your teeth. It’s also strongly linked with an increased risk of heart disease.To reduce your risk of teeth and gum problems:
- See your dentist regularly for a check-up.
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss once a day.
- If you have dentures, make sure you brush your dentures and gums with a soft toothbrush.
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Sexual Function And Diabetes
Reduced blood supply and nerve damage can affect sexual function. Erectile dysfunction in men is the persistent inability to achieve or maintain an erection sufficient for satisfactory sexual performance. This is a common problem for men of all ages and is more common in men with diabetes. Erectile dysfunction is not a disease, but a symptom of some other problem physical, psychological or a mixture of both. Most cases of erectile dysfunction are physical, such as nerve or blood vessel damage. In women, sexual dysfunction is also reported, although there is a lack of research in this area. It is difficult to know whether this is directly related to hormonal changes such as menopause, or to diabetes.It is important to seek help from your doctor, diabetes educator or organisations such as Healthy Male Andrology Australia.
What Does Heart Failure Have To Do With Diabetes
Heart failure is unfortunately one of the most common and deadly complications of diabetes, especially for people with type 2 diabetes. They are two to four times more likely to develop heart failure than people without diabetes, and having diabetes increases a person’s risk for repeat hospitalizations for heart failure. This is partly because many of the key risk factors for heart failure are common in people with type 2 diabetes, such as a body mass index over 25 , high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, or a history of a heart attack. Other risk factors for heart failure include heart valve problems, sleep apnea, lung disease, and smoking.
But the shared risk factors alone dont explain everything diabetes itself is an independent risk factor for heart failure. According to several research studies, each percentage point increase in A1C is associated with an increased risk of heart failure. Researchers suspect that over time, high blood sugar levels either damage the cells of the heart muscles or force the heart to work harder due to damage to smaller blood vessels throughout the body and in the heart this may be why high glucose levels are associated with heart failure.
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The Pathophysiology Of Cardiovascular Disease And Diabetes: Beyond Blood Pressure And Lipids
Betsy B. Dokken The Pathophysiology of Cardiovascular Disease and Diabetes: Beyond Blood Pressure and Lipids. Diabetes Spectr 1 July 2008 21 : 160165.
The pathophysiology of the link between diabetes and cardiovascular disease is complex and multifactorial. Understanding these profound mechanisms of disease can help clinicians identify and treat CVD in patients with diabetes, as well as help patients prevent these potentially devastating complications. This article reviews the biological basis of the link between diabetes and CVD, from defects in the vasculature to the cellular and molecular mechanisms specific to insulin-resistant states and hyperglycemia. It concludes with a discussion of heart failure in diabetes, a clinical entity that demonstrates many of the mechanisms discussed.
However, managing cardiovascular risk factors in patients with diabetes does not eradicate these complications. We are only just beginning to understand the complex and multifactorial etiology of CVD in diabetes. This review will attempt to provide an explanation of the current scientific knowledge in this field, from defects in the large blood vessels and the small blood vessels to the less well-understood cellular and molecular mechanisms of CVD in patients with diabetes.
Cut Down On Foods That Are High In Cholesterol
Reading food labels helps when trying to cut down on foods high in cholesterol. Look for labels that say low cholesterol, or no cholesterol. Look for foods that are low in fat. You can cut down on egg yolks, and eat more egg whites. Cut down on fried foods in general, and things like gravy, biscuits, and other foods known to be high in fat. Bake, grill, or broil meats, and trim excess fat.
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How Diabetes Affects The Heart
At least half of patients with diabetes have hypertension,a leading cause of heart attacks.
There is no question that people with diabetes are more likely to have conditions that increase the risk of heart attacks. This article discusses these conditions — heart disease, hypertension, high cholesterol, blood clots, stroke, heart failure, and peripheral artery disease — and their prevalence among diabetics. It also explains why diabetics are prone to certain risks, and what lifestyle changes diabetics can adopt to keep the heart healthy. We’ll get started on the next page with an overview of diabetes and heart disease.
For more information on diabetes and its effect on the heart, try the following links:
- Diabetes and Heart Disease explains the relationship between these two conditions.
- Diabetes Symptoms covers the diverse signs of the disease, from increased thirst and hunger to sudden weight loss.
- To learn more about diabetes in general, including diagnosis, causes, symptoms, and treatment, visit our main Diabetes page.
- For more information about heart disease in general, read How Heart Disease Works.
- Discover practical tips for preventing heart disease at Home Remedies for Heart Disease.
Family History Of Heart Disease
A family history of heart disease may add to your chances of developing the condition. If one or more of your family members had a heart attack before age 50, you have double the chance of developing heart disease compared with people who have no family history of the disease.4
You cant change whether heart disease runs in your family. But if you have diabetes, its even more important to take steps to protect yourself from heart disease and decrease your chances of having a stroke.
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Controlling Diabetes Path To Improved Health
There are many things you can do to be proactive about your health. Taking care of yourself is especially important when you have diabetes. Some of the things you would do to control diabetes will also lower your risk for heart disease.
Controlling your blood sugar level will lower your risk of heart disease. Many people who have diabetes check their blood sugar level every day. This confirms their medicines and/or insulin, diet, and exercise are working to keep their blood sugar in a normal range.
Diabetes, being overweight, and heart disease often go together. Losing weight helps a lot of health problems. For example, if youve been told your blood pressure is too high, losing weight can bring it down. If your blood sugar level has been hard to control, losing weight can help.
Weight loss is important if you have a lot of extra weight around your waist and abdominal area. People who tend to carry extra weight around their waist are more at risk for heart disease than people who have extra weight in the hips or thighs.
You dont have to lose a huge amount of weight to lower your risk for heart disease. Losing even 10 pounds can help.
If you need help losing weight, ask your family doctor for advice. He or she can help figure out a safe and healthy plan for you.
Diabetes And Heart Disease
You’ve probably heard that people with diabetes are at risk for multiple health complications, including cardiovascular disease. As it turns out, cardiovascular disease is especially common among people with diabetes: The majority of people with type 2 diabetes will eventually develop it.
Although most people have heard of cardiovascular disease, few understand exactly what it involves. Healthcare providers use the term “cardiovascular disease” to describe many conditions that affect blood circulation in the body:
Heart disease happens when blood circulating to the heart is slowed or stopped because of a blocked artery. Heart disease can result in chest pain, a heart attack, or even sudden death.
Heart failure happens when the heart loses its ability to pump blood as it should. Heart failure can be caused by a number of factors. These include damage to the heart or blocked arteries.
Stroke happens when blood flow to the brain is blocked. This is the most common type often because of a blood clot or blockages within arteries.
Peripheral arterial disease consists of blockages in the arteries to the legs and feet.
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When To See A Doctor
If you have diabetes and are experiencing heart disease symptoms such as pain or pressure in your chest, shortness of breath, or fatigue, you should see your doctor right away.
They may recommend making lifestyle changes and eating a healthy diet. They may also prescribe medications. These recommendations could save your life.
Now that you have a better understanding of the connection between heart disease and diabetes, its time to take action.
Whenever possible, eat healthy, stay active, and do your best to manage your blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels.
Having diabetes doesnt mean youll also develop other conditions, such as heart disease.
You have the power to manage your own risk factors and improve your heart health through lifestyle changes and working with your doctor to create a treatment plan thats right for you.
Reducing Your Risk Of Heart Attack Or Heart Disease
The good news is, you can reduce your risk of having a heart attack or developing heart disease.
- Get your HbA1c, blood pressure and blood cholesterol measured at least once a year as part of your annual diabetes review make sure you get advice and support from your healthcare team to keep them within your target range. Your care might look a bit different due to the coronavirus pandemic.
- Dont smoke. Smoking makes it harder for blood to flow around your body, especially to your heart. If you need help stopping, ask your healthcare team for more help or check out our information to help you quit.
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet to protect your heart reducing how much saturated fat you have is a good place to start.
- Be physically active and do some regular exercise.
- If you are living with obesity or overweight, get support to help you lose some weight. Even losing a small amount can make a real difference. Being a healthy weight range reduces the strain on your heart.
- Take your medication as prescribed. Some medicines help to protect your heart by reducing high blood pressure or blood fats and you may take these even if you dont have any blood pressure problems or high blood fats.
And if you have any chest pain or pain when walking call 999 straight away. These could be signs of a heart attack.
We’ve got more information about reducing your risk of a stroke too it’s all very similar advice as they’re closely linked.
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