The heart pumps millions of gallons of blood through your body during the course of a lifetime. It does a great job, most of the time. But diabetes can throw a wrench in the works.
There are multiple ways that this disease damages or hinders the cardiovascular system. Let’s take a look at some of them.
High Glucose Levels & Your Circulatory System
When you have elevated blood sugar levels, it leaves your blood vessels and cells ‘sticky’ due to the excess sugar molecules. This glycosylation has the effect of narrowing your vessels and making it harder for cells to move as freely through your circulatory system. Those cells may even be unable to move through the capillaries to your skin and extremities.
This poor circulation can damage your hands, legs, and even lead to diabetic neuropathy and other complications.
An Excess of Proteins
Diabetics also tend to have an increased amount of the clotting factor, fibrinogen, which is a protein that helps the blood to clot. Naturally, too much of this makes your blood start to coagulate. If you develop a large clot inside your body, it can lead to a stroke or a heart attack.
Cholesterol Levels Rising
Those with diabetes are also at a greater risk of elevated cholesterol levels, including bad LDL cholesterol and inflammatory triglycerides. Both of these hinder your circulatory system. LDL cholesterol tends to stick to your arterial walls, narrowing the passageways, so less blood gets through. It even raises blood pressure by forcing the heart to work harder to move blood and increases the potential for a fatty clot to form.
Damage To the Heart
Over time, those elevated glucose levels cause damage to the heart muscles and nerves. This is partly through glycosylation and other factors like chronic inflammation. When the heart becomes damaged, it can’t pump properly or as strongly as before. This can result in a number of potential complications, including:
- cardiovascular disease
- heart failure
- heart attack
The most common cause of death in diabetic adults is heart disease or stroke. Elevated blood sugar levels are nothing to sneeze at, as it can cause all kinds of issues in your cardiovascular system. Work to keep your blood sugar levels within normal ranges to prevent these complications.
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