Health Behaviours and Heart Failures (6th of 12 posts)

Posted by Heart Niagara on

Health Behaviours Impact on Heart Disease Risk Factors: Diabetes

Diabetes mellitus is high blood sugar and a complex disease because it has a very complicated development period, a complicated and poorly understood disease period which leads to an even more complicated disease impact period.

There are basically two types of diabetes, Type 1 “insulin dependent” diabetes (T1DM) and Type 2 “non-insulin dependent” diabetes (T2DM). T1DM affects about 380,000 Canadians and is the diabetes you get when you are a kid and your body does not produce insulin so you have to have insulin injections to survive. T2DM affects about 4,000,000 Canadians and is the diabetes you develop as an adult when your body produces insulin but the insulin molecule isn’t quite right and only kind of works and/or your body doesn’t efficiently use the insulin you produce and/or there is an insufficient amount of insulin for your body size.

Development Period

Why and who will develop T1DM is not known yet and at this point not preventable. T2DM is better understood and is generally preventable with life long good health behaviours, i.e., not eating too much, eating good quality food, good weight management and good exercise. Sadly though some people do most of the good health behaviours and still get T2DM. A persons DNA/genetics can help or harm you and diabetes is no exception. Sounds familiar doesn’t it, in general all the poor health behaviours that are involved in developing T2DM are also the cause of heart disease. Hence the vast majority of people with diabetes also develop heart disease. To summarize, the development of T2DM involves overeating, eating poor quality food, being over-weight, not getting enough exercise and genetics that allow blood sugar to get high.

Disease Period

High blood sugar causes havoc at a cellular level in our bodies. The best analogy is high blood sugar accelerates aging. People with high, poorly controlled blood sugars suffer from a number damaging cellular level problems with the main one being damage to the lining of the arteries (endothelium) and the arteries themselves. The endothelium is essentially what capillaries are made of and considered the microvascular network that every cell in our bodies need to survive. Constant high blood sugar constantly damages the microvascular network throughout our bodies leading to vision loss/blindness, kidney damage/kidney failure, heart muscle damage/heart failure and peripheral artery disease (reduced blood flow to your legs)/amputations.

Disease Impact Period

All of the disease problems of course impair our quality and quantity of life. In other words you live a shorter life and suffer from more major acute and chronic diseases when you have high blood sugar. Not fun!!

Needless to say you do not want to develop diabetes and if you do, you really want to control you blood sugars any and every way you can. Health behaviours (i.e., not over eating, eating good quality food, good weight management and being physically active) are the foundation of being healthy and staying healthy.