CVD & Diabetes

People living with diabetes are twice as likely
to develop and die from cardiovascular disease

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Understanding what steps you can take may reduce your risk of CVD

Diabetes is a major global health threat. It affects 1 in 11 adults … 425 million people with the overall figure predicted to rise to 629 million by 2045. Type 2 diabetes accounts for approximately 90% of all people with diabetes. All of those living with diabetes are at heightened risk of CVD making the prevention of CVD onset a major priority.

Why are people with diabetes twice is likely to have a heart attack or stroke than adults without diabetes?

  • Diabetes can damage your blood vessels and nerves
  • People with type 2 diabetes might also have high blood pressure, high cholesterol or are overweight. These increase the chances of getting heart disease
  • The longer you live with diabetes, the higher your risk of heart disease and stroke

For adults at age 60, having type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease shortens life expectancy by an average of 12 years.

About CVD and type 2 diabetes

Diabetes is a metabolic disorder characterized by high blood sugar, insulin resistance and relative lack of insulin. Long-term complications from high blood sugar include heart disease, strokes and diabetic retinopathy, which can result in blindness, kidney failure, and poor blood flow in the limbs that may lead to amputations.

Those living with type 2 diabetes are twice as likely to die from heart disease and stroke compared to patients without diabetes. It is estimated that globally, as many as 212.4 million people or half of all people aged 20-79 years with diabetes are unaware of their disease, and these people are all at increased risk of CVD.

All of this results in an urgent need to prevent CVD in those with diabetes, requiring careful attention to CVD risk factors such as tobacco use, hypertension, and blood lipids.

Top 3 questions to ask your doctor about diabetes and your heart

All it takes is one conversation to start reducing your risk of CVD, including heart disease and stroke. Millions of people with diabetes are living heart-healthy lives and you can too. So ask your doctor:

  1. What changes can I make as part of my daily life to take care of my heart
  2. How will I know if any of the changes I’ve made are making a difference?
  3. Are there any resources that will help me to learn more?

The magnitude of the problem

In 2015, the global economic burden of type 2 diabetes was estimated to be $1.3 trillion, or 1.8% of the global GDP; and it is estimated that this burden will increase to $2.1 – $2.5 trillion by 2030. Twelve percent of global health expenditure is spent on diabetes ($727 billion).
Despite the high prevalence and burden of diabetes worldwide, diagnosis and treatment continue to fall behind required levels.

How one patient was diagnosed with heart disease by luck

“Twenty years ago I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and was told that I would have to follow precautions and carefully look after my health. I was a happily married retired bookmaker, with three children and five grandchildren. Other than having diabetes I felt fit, happy and healthy.

“After picking up a leaflet in my doctor’s surgery, I decided to have my heart checked. My test revealed a possible problem and I was sent for an angiogram, which showed five blockages – three in the main arteries to the heart and two minor blockages. I was told the problem was serious and that I needed surgery.

“Just a few months later, I was recovering from a triple bypass surgery. I am grateful that my problem was picked up before I had symptoms and it became life-threatening.

“I hope my story will encourage people to monitor their heart health to avoid potentially serious problems, especially for people with diabetes as they often fall into a higher risk category for developing heart disease. I was not aware of this increased risk until I was diagnosed with heart disease one year ago.”

Download the CVD & diabetes factsheet

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Download the CVD & diabetes awareness infographic

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Professionals: take a look at the WHD Roadmap for CVD & Diabetes

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