Heart Failure and Diabetes
Marc Joshua Berkowitz, MD, is an interventional cardiologist at Banner Desert Medical Center. For more information, consult your physician or call Dr. Berkowitz’s office at 480-835-6100.
Question: I was recently diagnosed with diabetes and was surprised to learn I’m also at risk for heart failure. What other health conditions can contribute to heart failure?
Answer: Diabetes is a major cause of heart failure, a condition where the heart becomes weakened and can no longer pump blood efficiently through the body.
Diabetics do not have enough of a hormone called insulin to adequately break down the sugar in foods. As a result, too much sugar remains in the bloodstream and causes damage to the heart and the heart’s circulation.
Another common cause of heart failure is high blood pressure. Blood pressure is a measurement of the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries. If the pressure is high, it puts undue stress on the heart and over time weakens the muscle. A normal blood pressure measurement is 120/80, and if the reading is 140/90 consistently over time, blood pressure is considered high. For diabetics, high blood pressure would be anything higher than 130/80.
Coronary artery disease is also a significant contributor to heart failure. This condition results when calcium and a substance called plaque build up inside the arteries that carry oxygen-rich blood to the heart. Plaque reduces the interior space, or lumen, of the artery and may cause clots that block blood flow, damaging the muscle by limiting how much oxygen and nutrients can travel to the heart.
Treating these conditions can help to prevent or at least slow the progression of heart failure. Working with your doctor to create a plan that includes proper diet, exercise, medications and other lifestyle modifications can go a long way to keeping your heart strong.