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Diabetes Health Center

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Diabetes: Lower Your Heart Disease Risk - Topic Overview

Be active

Being active is good for your diabetes and for your heart. It helps manage your blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol. And it plays a key part in controlling your weight. In turn, a healthy weight also helps control your diabetes and heart risk.

  • Talk to your doctor before you start an exercise program.
  • Choose a way to be active that you enjoy. Walking is a good choice if you're just starting out or your time is limited. Resistance exercise also helps to improve your fitness level and improve your blood sugar control.
  • Day by day or week by week, add a little more time or effort to your activity. Build up to at least 30 minutes on most days of the week.

Watch and track your levels

  • Test your blood sugar levels. Know your blood sugar goals. Test your levels at home, and get your diabetes A1c tests on schedule. Every day, do your best to keep your blood sugar about the same, within your target range.
  • Know your blood pressure. For most people who have diabetes, the ideal blood pressure is below 120/80. High blood pressure is 140/80 or higher when you have diabetes. In between these two levels is called prehypertension. Many people who have diabetes or prehypertension can help lower their blood pressure by eating healthy foods, getting regular exercise, and reaching and staying at a healthy weight. If you have diabetes and your blood pressure is higher than 140/80, your treatment may also include blood pressure medicine.
  • Know your cholesterol. Get your cholesterol tested on schedule. Know your LDL and HDL cholesterol numbers, and ask your doctor what your cholesterol goal is. LDL is the "bad" cholesterol, the kind that can clog your arteries. HDL is the "good" cholesterol. A high level of HDL is linked with a lower risk of having a heart attack.
  • Get a urine test to check for protein. Protein in the urine can be a sign of kidney damage (diabetic nephropathy). If you have signs of kidney damage, you may also have a higher risk for heart disease.
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