Diabetes and Stroke Prevention

What you Should Know about Diabetes

Diabetes, also called diabetes mellitus, is a condition that causes blood sugar to rise. A fasting blood glucose (sugar) level of 126 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or higher is dangerous. People who have diabetes are 2 times as likely to have a stroke compared to people who do not have diabetes. People with diabetes also tend to develop heart disease or have a stroke at an earlier age than people without diabetes. People with prediabetes are at increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes, but also for heart disease and stroke. Every 2 minutes an American adult with diabetes is hospitalized for stroke.

Diabetes and Stroke Connection

The connection between diabetes and stroke has to do with the way the body handles blood glucose to make energy. Most of the food we eat is broken down into glucose to give us energy. Glucose enters a person’s bloodstream and travels to cells throughout the body after food is digested. For glucose to enter cells and provide energy, it needs a hormone called insulin. The pancreas is responsible for producing this insulin in the right amounts. In people who have Type 1 diabetes (formerly called juvenile diabetes), the pancreas does not make insulin. In people who have Type 2 diabetes, the pancreas makes too little insulin, or muscles, the liver and fat do not use insulin in the right way. As a result, people with untreated diabetes accumulate too much glucose in their blood, and their cells don’t receive enough energy. Over time, excessive blood glucose can result in increased fatty deposits or clots in blood vessels.

Understanding the Risk

Diabetes or prediabetes

  • Excessive belly fat
  • Men: waist over 40 inches
  • Women: waist over 35 inches

High blood pressure

  • High blood glucose levels

High cholesterol


Know Your Numbers

Another important step is to get regular testing and talk with your doctor to make sure you’re doing all you can to keep healthy. This includes knowing the ABCs of diabetes.

ABC’s of Diabetes

A1C Test

This test shows your average blood glucose levels for the past three months. The test should be performed two to four times a year.

Below 7%
Blood Pressure

The blood pressure goal for most people with diabetes is below 140/90
mm Hg.


Studies suggest ideal total cholesterol at about 150 mg/dL, and about 100 mg/dL for low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C, also known as “bad” cholesterol).

Diabetes tends to lower “good” cholesterol levels and raise triglyceride and “bad” cholesterol levels.


If you quit smoking

• you will lower your risk for heart attack, stroke, and other health conditions

• your blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels may improve

• your blood circulation will improve

• you may have an easier time being physically active

Be Informed, Be Healthy

People with diabetes can live long, healthy lives, free from heart disease, stroke, and other health problems. Recognizing the connection between diabetes and stroke is the first step towards lowering stroke risk.

Join the Know Diabetes by Heart Initiative

  • Our best science-backed tips Personal stories from people just like you
  • Recipes and meal planning solutions
  • Resources for living with type 2

Woman posing in red dress

Diabetes and Stroke Videos