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Diabetes and Heart Disease

Understanding the Heart and Blood Vessels

Your heart and blood vessels make up your circulatory system. Your heart is a big muscle that pumps blood through your body. Your heart pumps blood carrying oxygen to large blood vessels, called arteries, and small blood vessels, called capillaries. Other blood vessels, called veins, carry blood back to the heart.
 

Understanding Clogged Arteries

Several things, including having diabetes, can make your blood cholesterol level too high. Cholesterol is a substance that is made by the body and used for many important functions. It is also found in some food derived from animals. When cholesterol is too high for long periods, the insides of large blood vessels become narrowed, even clogged. This problem is called atherosclerosis.
 
Narrowed and clogged blood vessels make it harder for enough blood to get to all parts of your body, which can cause a variety of problems.
 

How Clogged Arteries Affect People With Diabetes

Arteries that become narrowed and clogged can lead to chest pain or a heart attack. When you have chest pain (also called angina), you may also feel pain in your arms, shoulders, or back. You may feel the pain more when your heart beats faster, such as when you exercise. The pain may go away when you rest. You also may feel weak and sweaty. If you do not get treatment, chest pain may occur more frequently. If diabetes has damaged the heart nerves, you may not feel the chest pain.
 
A heart attack occurs when a blood vessel in or near the heart becomes blocked. Not enough blood can get to that part of the heart muscle. That area of the heart muscle stops working, so the heart is weaker. During a heart attack, you may have chest pain along with:
 
  • Nausea
  • Indigestion
  • Extreme weakness
  • Sweating.
     
Healthy Eating for People With Diabetes

Diabetic Complications

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