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February is Heart Health month which is quite fitting because Valentine’s Day is just around the corner! What better time to talk about heart health and learn about how to best take care of it with your diabetes!

Having diabetes for a long time can affect the function of our heart over time. People with diabetes may develop heart disease 15 years earlier than those without diabetes.

The good news is that by paying attention to certain indicators we can lower the risk of heart disease and stroke considerably. These indicators are known as the “ABCDESSS” of diabetes. By managing these indicators with your doctor and health care team we can help lower the risk of heart disease and stroke.

They stand for:

 

A – is for A1C. Manage your blood sugars by reaching an A1C less than 7%.

 

B – is for blood pressure. Aim for less than 130/80.

 

C – is for cholesterol. Try having lower “LDL” cholesterol level at less than 2mmol/L.

 

D-  Sometimes diet and lifestyle aren’t enough to protect our hearts and we have to turn to medication. Speak to your doctor about certain heart protective medications such as statins, blood pressure pills, cholesterol pills, Aspirin and others.

 

E – Healthy Eating and Exercise- Medications may be a necessary part of our diabetes management at some point in our journey, however a healthy lifestyle full of healthy eating and activity can do wonders for the prevention and treatment of heart disease.

 

S – is for self-management. It is important to take care of your diabetes and seek support when needed.

 

S – is for screening. To prevent diabetes-related complications; screening is key! See your eye and foot doctor every year.

 

S – is for quitting smoking. Quitting can be tough, so talk to your doctor about smoking cessation programs because it may be easier with a little support!

    Some things to keep in mind for Heart Health month to enhance our healthy lifestyle are:

     

    Enjoy a healthy, well-balanced diet →  A healthy diet balanced with the right amount of fruit and vegetables, whole grains and proteins can help manage your diabetes. A healthy diet can also improve other heart disease risk factors such as obesity, high blood pressure and cholesterol. Overall, focusing on eating meals low in fat, low in salt, low in sugar and  high in fibre will help with managing your diabetes and ultimately your heart health.

     

    Get moving! →  Regular exercise can help with the prevention and treatment of diabetes. By moving our bodies, we use up blood glucose because our muscles need more energy and this is why exercise is one of our best tools for managing our blood sugars. It is recommended that we get a minimum of 30 minutes five days per week, so find something you love and get moving!

     

    Heart Healthy & Diabetes Friendly snack ideas for this Valentine’s Season:

     

    1. Yogurt Covered “Chocolate” Strawberries

    2. Decadent Black Bean Brownies 

    3. Dark Chocolate-Filled Raspberries 

    4. Strawberry-Greek Yogurt Pretzels

    References:

    https://www.cardiosmart.org/Heart-Conditions/Type-2-Diabetes/Content/Living-With-Diabetes

    https://www.diabetes.ca/managing-my-diabetes/preventing-complications/heart-disease—stroke