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Diabetes and Coronary Artery Disease

Diabetes is a condition that affects how insulin is produced and used in the body. Insulin is a hormone that controls blood sugar. A person who has diabetes either does not produce enough insulin or is unable to use it properly. Over time, this condition can accelerate hardening and narrowing (atherosclerosis) of the coronary arteries. This results in coronary artery disease.

People who have diabetes are 4 times more likely to have coronary artery disease than people who do not have diabetes.1 People who have diabetes are 2 to 4 times more likely to die from coronary artery disease than people who do not have diabetes.2

If you have diabetes and coronary artery disease, you can help lower your risk of a heart attack or stroke by managing your diabetes and having a healthy lifestyle, which includes being active, taking medicines to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and not smoking.3


  1. Greenland P, et al. (2010). 2010 ACCF/AHA guideline for assessment of cardiovascular risk in asymptomatic adults: A report of the American College of Cardiology Foundation/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 56(25): e50–e103.

  2. Roger VL, et al. (2012). Heart disease and stroke statistics—2012 update: A report of the American Heart Association. Circulation, 125(1): e2–e220. Also available online:

  3. Smith SC, et al. (2011). AHA/ACCF secondary prevention and risk reduction therapy for patients with coronary and other atherosclerotic vascular disease: 2011 update: A guideline from the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology Foundation. Circulation, 124(22): 2458–2473. Also available online:

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
Specialist Medical Reviewer Robert A. Kloner, MD, PhD - Cardiology
Current as of March 12, 2014

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 12, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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