Diabetes and obesity numbers are expanding faster than the average American waistband. As the weight of the nation increases, heart disease is rising right alongside.
"We've found that diabetes actually has the same risk factor association as someone who's already had one heart attack." Said Cardiologist Dr. Elden Rand with the North Central Heart Institute.
In fact for men, having diabetes doubles their risk of heart attack; women it triples it. Whether it's Type I or Type II, if you have diabetes staying on top of your medication is only the first step.
"Just taking a pill is not going to be sufficient for what you'd want to try to decrease your risk for heart disease." Said Dr. Rand.
That's because diabetes increases the strain on your circulatory system. Putting your kidneys, blood vessels, and more importantly, your very life in jeopardy.
"It has to do with the damage to the inside layers of the blood vessels so what happens is they get this damage inside of the blood vessels causes development of cholesterol plaque in between the layers and arteries so they develop plaques and a higher risk of abstractive heart disease as well as heart attacks earlier than folks who don't have diabetes." Said Dr. Rand.
With all that plaque buildup many people lose nerve sensation throughout their bodies making it hard to tell if they're having a heart attack.
"Symptoms of shortness of breath, they may have more symptoms for instance in their jaw or their neck or shoulder, so the perception of pain due to the nerve changes can altered in diabetic folks." Said Dr. Rand.
Like every other cardiac condition, exercise and getting off the couch is the best way to beat diabetes. Keeping on top of your blood sugar is also critical, but having diabetes should be all the motivation to make sure you're living a healthy life.
"Absolutely if you have diabetes or pre-diabetes it should serve as a warning indicator that you want to assess all your risk factors, see your doctor and anything that needs to be adjusted or anything that you can modify from a risk factor standpoint is what you want to do to minimize your chance to need cardiologists like us." Said Dr. Rand.
Not that Dr. Rand doesn't want to see you, he just doesn't want to see you here, on an operating table.