Stroke Smart Magazine
Printer Friendly Version
It’s Up to You!
Take Control of Diabetes to Prevent Stroke, Heart Disease
It’s rare to go a week without hearing something in the news
about diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, 24 million
Americans have diabetes and another 57 million Americans have pre-diabetes, a
condition that can lead to diabetes. Additionally, it is estimated that one in
three children born in the year 2000 could develop diabetes if current trends
continue. But what is diabetes? Why is it so serious and what does it have to
do with stroke?
In order for blood glucose
another word for sugar to get into our cells and muscles to give our
bodies energy, it needs insulin. Insulin is made in our pancreas and acts like
a key that opens the door of the cells and muscles to let the glucose in,
lowering the blood glucose. Diabetes occurs when the body does not make or use
insulin correctly to change food into energy. As a result, the glucose from
food gets stuck in the bloodstream causing the blood glucose to remain high.
High blood glucose levels, in time, cause the body to place
more fat on the inside of the blood vessel walls. This fat build-up can affect
blood flow in the vessels or cause the vessel or the walls of the vessels to
become hard. This build-up or hardening in the vessels can restrict the flow of
blood to the brain, causing stroke.
If blood glucose levels are not managed, diabetes can cause
a lot of damage to the body. The
National institute for Diabetes, Digestive, and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) notes
that people with diabetes are not only at higher risk for stroke, heart and
kidney disease but they also develop these conditions at earlier ages than
people without diabetes.
There are several things that people with diabetes can do to
reduce their risk of a stroke. First is
to control blood glucose under a doctors care. Keeping the blood glucose levels
as close to normal as possible over time reduces the risk of having a stroke
and developing other diabetes complications.
Typically, people with diabetes test their blood sugar levels daily as
prescribed by their doctors. Some diabetics take insulin shots and/or oral
diabetes medications. Some factors can be controlled by lifestyles changes;
others need medication. You should always consult with your health care
provider to determine the best method of controlling your diabetes.
Important steps to lowering the risk for stroke include:
- Lowering blood
- Lowering cholesterol
- Quitting smoking.
- Getting physical
- Eating a diet of
fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins.
If lifestyle adjustments aren’t enough, your doctor will be
able to prescribe medication. Each case of diabetes is as unique as the person
it affects and it is critical to follow your doctor’s directions in the
treatment and prevention of diabetes. Taking steps to control your diabetes and
prevent stroke is up to you.
Tips to manage diabetes and reduce risk for stroke:
- Find ways to sneak physical activity into your
daily routine: park farther away at the grocery store, get up and move around
during the commercials of your favorite programs, meet a friend for a walk
instead of a meal.
- Eat less fried food: you don’t have to give up
all fried foods forever, but reduce the amount of fried food you eat. For
example, if you currently eat fried foods three times a week, start by reducing
to twice a week.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables: pack an apple
or other fruit for a snack, add fruit to your cereal, oatmeal or yogurt.
- If you take medicine for blood pressure, blood
sugar and/or cholesterol, take your it as prescribed.
- See your doctor regularly.
Learn more about diabetes
The following Web sites and organizations are great places
to get more information:
Sarah Piper, MPH, CDE, is Diabetes Education Coordinator for
the Diabetes Association of Atlanta
Stroke Smart Home | Subscribe to Stroke Smart