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Strong link between diabetes and heart disease, experts say

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Strong link between diabetes and heart disease, experts say

BY SHARLENE HENDRICKS
Staff reporter
hendrickss@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, January 27, 2019

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DOCTORS and other field experts speaking at the Heart Foundation’s launch of heart month on Tuesday at the Spanish Court in Kingston, confirmed that there exists a strong correlation between diabetes and cardiovascular disease, often thought to be separate diseases.

“A lot of people don’t know that diabetes can lead to heart disease, they are almost seen as two different things. So we thought that we would use this month just to give the public some information about how diabetes can lead to heart disease, what diabetic persons can do to prevent heart disease, and in doing so, they will have prevented all the other ailments that come along with an uncontrolled high blood sugar”, said Executive Director of the Heart Foundation, Deborah Chen.

Chen told the Jamaica Observer that the foundation, for the month of February, will be looking at the theme: ‘The diabetic heart, are you at risk’? To this question, experts who spoke at the launch gave an emphatic ‘yes’.

Professor of endocrinology and metabolism at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Dr Michael Boyne said:

“Worldwide, two thirds of persons with diabetes die from heart disease. When I talk to a lot of patients and ask, why do people with diabetes die, they say sugar, but they don’t know what that really means. But in the days before there was any form of treatment, persons would have died in a particular type of coma associated with diabetes. Nowadays that people are getting treatment, most of the times diabetic persons die because of a heart attack because the diabetes accelerates the hardening of the arteries. So this process as we get older, become super efficient in that diabetic individual”.

Dr Boyne also noted that there are other complications related to diabetes, including dementia, deafness, cancer, depression, lung disease as well as heart failure.

“We also recognise that diabetes causes heart failure. In this case, the heart is not beating as well as it should. And when persons have heart failure, which is very common in persons with diabetes, they complain of shortness of breath, heart palpitions and swelling of the legs,” said Dr Boyne.

Director of chronic diseases and injuries prevention at the Ministry of Health, Dr Tamu Davidson, explained that diabetes plays a major role in the development of cardiovascular diseases.

“Specifically when we look at cardiovascular disease, more than one third of Jamaicans die from this disease. The next groups are cancer and diabetes. What we know is that there is a clear link between diabetes and heart or cardiovascular disease, where it’s not just the complication of diabetes, but diabetes contributes to that big number that we see in respect to cardiovascular disease,” said Dr Davidson, adding that, “Even with diabetes under control, we know that persons if they have other risk factors such as tobacco use, drinking, obesity, or high cholesterol, then we know they are at a higher risk for a cardiovascular disease”.

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