Understanding the cardiovascular risk

Question

What is cardiovascular disease?

Cardiovascular disease is a general term for conditions affecting the heart or blood vessels. It's usually associated with the build up of fatty deposits inside the arteries - known as atherosclerosis - and an increase risk of blood clots. Cardiovascular disease includes three categories of diseases; coronary heart disease, stroke and peripheral artery disease.

Click on each person below to learn more about each one:

Coronary heart disease

Coronary heart disease affects the blood vessels supplying the heart with oxygen-rich blood, which can result in chest pain (angina), heart attacks and heart failure

Stroke

A stroke occurs when blood vessels supplying blood to the brain become blocked or burst

Peripheral artery disease

Peripheral artery disease affects the vessels supplying blood to the legs and feet. This can result in ulcers and weakness in the legs and it puts a person at risk of needing an amputation


How does type 2 diabetes affect cardiovascular health?


Type 2 diabetes causes high blood sugar, which can damage the walls of the arteries in people living with this disease. This damage can increase the likelihood of fatty material (e.g. fat, cholesterol) in the blood vessels and, over time, the build up of fatty material can cause the arteries to become narrowed. This, in turn, can lead to reduced blood flow.

Reduced blood flow can limit the amount of oxygen-rich blood that is delivered to organs and muscles. This can cause chest pain and weakness in the legs.

High blood sugar can also cause blood to stick together and form blood clots. Another way in which a blood clot can form is when build up of fatty material breaks off an artery wall and blocks the blood vessel.

Blood clots can cause complete blockage of blood vessels and, depending on where this blockage has occurred, it can result in a heart attack or stroke.

Additionally, people with type 2 diabetes are more likely to have high blood pressure and high cholesterol, which can further increase build up of fatty material in the arteries.


What are the risk factors related to type 2 diabetes that may also affect your cardiovascular risk?

Facts

If you have type 2 diabetes, you may also have other risk factors that are associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.

Click on the boxes below to learn more.

High blood pressure

High blood pressure can put an increased strain on your heart and blood vessels. If your blood vessels are weakened or narrowed by fatty build-up, this increased pressure could cause your vessels to rupture more easily or release an existing blood clot into your blood stream

Obesity

Having obesity can cause both your blood pressure and cholesterol levels to increase. Your risk of high blood pressure or high cholesterol generally increases as your body mass index (BMI) increases

Unregulated blood lipid profile

Higher levels of cholesterol can increase the chances of developing fatty build-up in your arteries

Smoking

Smoking can damage the walls of your blood vessels, which can lead to build-up of fatty material in your arteries.
Additionally, cigarettes contain many chemicals which can raise your blood pressure and reduce the amount of oxygen in your blood – meaning your heart has to work harder to pump blood around your body


Are you heart smart?

Question

The people below have type 2 diabetes. What proportion of people with type 2 diabetes die from cardiovascular disease?

Click on the persons below. How many people out of 3 do you think will die of CVD

In people with type 2 diabetes, approximately 2/3 will die of cardiovascular disease.

Learn how you can lower your risk of cardiovascular disease, by taking care of your heart health and type 2 diabetes, together.

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2 of 3
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UK/WB/0517/0023e  August 2017