Because your life is at stake, let’s get this out of the way first before any further articulation. Yes, diabetes can lead to congestive heart failure.
The articulation, by which we mean questions like “What is diabetes?,” “What is congestive heart failure?,” and “What can you do about it?” now follows.
Just What Is Diabetes?
As WebMD discusses it, diabetes is a condition in which, for one reason or another, insulin is not converting the glucose in your body into fuel. One concern here is with the symptoms associated with the lack of glucose fueling your cells – such as uncommon tiredness.
The greater concern derives from the build-up of unabsorbed sugar in the body, a buildup which over time damages vascular tissue and leads to serious problems in some crucial organs, such as your kidneys and your eyes. As we will see, one of these problems is consumptive heart failure.
There are two principal kinds of diabetes, primarily distinguished by the way in which they interfere with insulin.
Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas, which is responsible for insulin production, is damaged – usually by being attacked by the body’s immune system, thereby becoming incapable of performing its function. Accordingly, there simply isn’t enough insulin to do the crucial work of helping tissue absorb glucose.
In Type 2 diabetes, the pancreas does produce insulin, but the body has either developed a resistance to it or not enough is being produced to be effective.
This is the form we fear developing as adults due to factors like obesity and lack of exercise, which foster insulin resistance. Type 2, too, can damage the eyes, kidneys, and particularly the heart.
Ninety-five percent of all people who have diabetes have Type 2 or adult-onset diabetes. While Type 1 is more typically associated with childhood, Type 2 has begun appearing more often in children and teenagers. Type 1 is usually more dangerous, but it is Type 2 that is of particular concern when it comes to heart failure.
Diabetes, or Diabetes Mellitus as it is formally known, can be managed, but it cannot be cured. According to the American Diabetes Association, nearly 10% of the American public suffers the disease.
Of the 30 million American diabetics, over 7 million don’t know they have the disease, and another 84 million are classified as “pre-diabetic.”
Diabetes is a killer. As of 2015, 85,000 deaths were attributed to the disease, with over a quarter-million more listing diabetes as “underlying or contributing.”
What, Exactly, Is Heart Failure?
We should first distinguish between heart failure and heart attack. Colloquially, it’s easy to confuse them, since, after all, when you have a heart attack your heart has truly failed. Actually, the terms refer to specific conditions – neither of them desirable.
Heart attacks are typically painful, striking suddenly. They occur when arterial blood flow has become blocked. Without blood, the muscle that makes up the heart cannot survive.
Heart failure, by contrast, is a prolonged condition in which while the heart continues functioning, it isn’t able to pump blood vigorously enough.
Heart failure us still, potentially, a killer. It’s just that it takes its time about it, often reducing a life by many years.
A shorthand way to distinguish the two conditions is to bear in mind that heart disease makes one more susceptible to heart attack, and a heart attack can weaken the heart, leading to heart disease.
It also creates a host of more prevalent problems that curtail the quality of life long before, all too often, it ends it.
According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of heart failure include:
– frequent weakness, making it difficult to get sufficient exercise
– arhythmic heartbeat
– swelling in the lower extremities
– urinating much more often through the night
– difficulty drawing breath
– fluid retention, especially abdominal swelling
– coughing up pink-colored mucous
– trouble concentrating on familiar mental tasks
– pains in the chest
There are two principal problems that bring on heart failure. Either the walls of the chambers of the heart have stiffened, or they’ve stretched beyond normal.
Either will interfere with proper pumping, in which at least half of the blood within each chamber is pushed out with each heartbeat.
In this video, Dr. Sanjay Gupta provides a fuller perspective on congestive heart failure, including greater technical detail about the disease.
Just What Is The Relationship Between Diabetes and Heart Failure?
Like our kidneys and our eyes under the pressure of diabetes, our heart is an organ with blood vessels and muscle tissue slowly being damaged by unabsorbed glucose in the blood.
There isn’t any obstruction in the blood flow, blocking it and thereby leading to the sudden death of large amounts of heart tissue as in a heart attack.
Rather, unabsorbed glucose acts almost like a free radical, weathering and aging heart muscle so that it can no longer pump the amount of blood the body requires.
The American Heart Association warns that diabetes doubles to quadruples one’s risk of death from heart disease, and that just over two-thirds of seniors with diabetes will die of heart disease. So at the risk of repeating ourselves: Can diabetes lead to congestive heart failure?
Yes, it can, it quite often does, and it is quite often deadly. Diabetes sufferers commonly exhibit these symptoms, which are associated with insulin resistance – the direct cause of damaging glucose being left overabundant in the blood.
– Sedentary lifestyle
– Unsafe cholesterol and triglyceride levels
What Can You Do About It?
It isn’t just that diabetes can lead to heart failure, it’s that heart failure is an example of diabetes. Diabetes will be written up as an “underlying cause.”
If there’s any good news in this, it’s that there is a common course of actions you can take that can keep you from getting diabetes, if you don’t have it. It can also keep diabetes you do have from expressing itself as heart failure if it hasn’t.
Get moving. No, Really. Now.
Take this post as your personal message from the Web, telling you, “It’s time to get off the Web.” Start with a nice long walk, as Prevention recommends if you’re able. When is the last time you walked a half hour?
If walking isn’t for you, there’s also weight training, which is available to you at your local fitness center. Many fitness centers also offer swimming pools for people who prefer the water to the pavement.
Swimming is also an excellent alternative to walking for people suffering some of the effects of heart failure, particularly fatigue and any kind of lower extremity disability.
Believe That A Salad Is Worth That Five Dollars
Now that we’ve just told you to get off the Internet and take a walk, we need you to get back online to learn what you should eat.
There are all sorts of diet tips to find, but it will take some commitment to being willing to be deliberate about our appetite and our taste.
In its general outlines, we know what we’re supposed to eat. Vegetables. Eat more fresh vegetables. Find new ways to like them. There is no way around this.
Further, Top Ramen is not a vegetable.
Curb sugar and salt (there goes the Top Ramen), which are particularly dangerous to people with diabetes and prediabetes.
If you’ve been a gourmand, following your appetite wherever it leads, it might be good to appraise for yourself, objectively, just how that’s working out for you.
It’s Time To Face The Weight
Follow the recommendations given so far, and that will happen. Our only further recommendation is to track your progress numerically.
Though there’s nothing like pen and paper, there are also online goal-tracking programs like Stickk.com for your assistance.
Don’t be afraid if you fail the first time, or the second time, or the fifth.
Plug Into Your Spirit
Ashley Beatriz is one of many who have found untold inner resources during her struggle. This is available to each of us, on our own terms. Find whatever spiritual or philosophical resources you have, and put them to work.
Do go to the doctor preemptively and regularly. Don’t be one of the one in four diabetes sufferers the Centers For Disease Control tells us don’t even know they have the disease. If you’re reading this, you might have a suspicion.
Medicine doesn’t have a cure for diabetes but it does have some powerful answers. Look at being examined regularly for what it must be: a contribution to medical science’s effort to one day get rid of diabetes, and even one day gets rid of heart failure, once and for all.
Meanwhile, you’ll probably help yourself. Lots of people stay prediabetic. Lots of people with diabetes live long, fruitful lives. You can be sure they’re all rooting for you.