Local News

New Information For Diabetics To Take To Heart

Posted December 21, 2001 11:01 a.m. EST

— For people with diabetes, controlling blood sugar is key. But now there is new information for diabetics to take to heart.

Amos Mitchell built a career riding the highs and lows of the stock market. Factor in a family history of heart disease and Mitchell was a prime candidate for a heart attack. It happened early one morning in October.

"I knew instantly that it was a heart attack," he said.

There was another contributing factor. Mitchell is a diabetic. Research shows diabetics are more likely to have a heart attack or stroke, especially if they have high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

"They are even more powerful predictors of heart attack and stroke than in patients who don't have diabetes," said cardiologist Dr. Virgil Wynia.

There are two reasons this happens. High blood sugar levels damage blood vessels, reducing blood flow. People with diabetes also tend to have higher fat levels in their blood, which can clog blood vessels, so the American Diabetes Association developed the ABCs of diabetes.

"A" stands for A1C, a test which measures blood glucose. A healthy level is less than 7 percent. "B" stands for Blood Pressure. Systolic blood pressure rate should be below 130 and diastolic rate should be over 80. "C" stands for Cholesterol. LDL levels should be below 100.

Managing diabetes and heart disease takes commitment. Mitchell is trying to lose weight and cut his 14-hour workday in half, but he admits it is not easy.

"The problem is they're still life's demands and expectations that people expect you to meet," he said.

Treating heart disease and diabetes can be tricky, especially when there are a lot of medications involved. Diet is also a concern. With diabetes, it is important to cut back on carbohydrates. With heart disease, avoid fatty foods.

Health Team Photographer:

Ken Bodine