Cardiovascular disease, also known as heart disease, affects two to four times more people living with diabetes than it does people without the condition.

In recent years, the medical community has gained significant insight into what causes heart disease, how it’s related to diabetes, and how to help prevent it. Unless you’re fully up to date on the latest research, you may not be aware of what it means to live with diabetes and heart disease.

Read on to learn what is fact and what is fiction about heart disease and diabetes.

Myth: People with heart disease should avoid exerting themselves

Staying active is always a good idea unless your doctor tells you otherwise. For many people who are living with diabetes and heart disease, a sedentary lifestyle can lead to complications such as blood clots, heart attack, and stroke.

Participating in moderate physical activities like walking and dancing will help to improve your circulation and strengthen the muscles in your heart. It will also encourage a sense of general healthiness and well-being. If you’re living with diabetes and heart disease, go out and get moving!

Myth: Only overweight people get diabetes

While being overweight or obese does increase your chances of getting diabetes, it’s far from the only risk factor. Things like genetics, age, and family history all play an important role as well.

The majority of overweight people won’t develop diabetes, and many people with type 2 diabetes are of average weight. No matter how much you weigh, you should consider having your doctor test your blood pressure and cholesterol on a regular basis.

Fact: Heart disease affects men and women equally

For years, it was thought that heart disease affected more men than women. However, has shown that it’s now the leading cause of death in women as well. Due to the long-standing idea that women aren’t as susceptible, heart disease in women is still often overlooked and undertreated.

Common factors like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, inactivity, obesity, and smoking are the same for both women and men, so everyone should be taking every step possible to lower their risk. Eat healthy, stay active, manage your stress, and don’t smoke.

Fact: You can still get heart disease if you’re taking diabetes medication

Although taking medication for your diabetes will help lower your blood sugar levels, it doesn’t guarantee you won’t develop heart disease.

Diabetes medications help prevent complications related to smaller blood vessels, like kidney disease and neuropathy, but they have less impact on large blood vessels.

Even if you’re taking medication for diabetes, it’s important that you make an effort to lower your blood pressure and cholesterol through healthy eating and exercise.

Myth: If your family has a history of heart disease, there’s nothing you can do to prevent it

You do have a higher risk of developing heart disease if it runs in your family, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do about it. Talk to your doctor about creating a plan of action for maintaining a healthy heart. Some things to include are:

  • setting goals for your diet and workout routine
  • keeping a journal of your progress
  • monitoring your blood sugar and blood pressure
  • finding methods to manage your stress
  • cutting out unhealthy activities like smoking and excessive drinking

By taking these steps, you can significantly reduce your risk of developing heart disease, regardless of your family history.

The takeaway

Now that you’ve sorted some of the facts from the myths regarding diabetes and heart disease, it’s time to take action. Make healthy choices, stay active, and keep in regular contact with your healthcare team.

By being proactive about managing your diabetes, you’ll make great strides toward preventing heart disease.