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 with 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, resulting in poor blood flow to the heart muscle.

People who have diabetes develop atherosclerosis more frequently and at a younger age than those not affected by the disease. Diabetes may double the risk of death from coronary artery disease (CAD). People with diabetes are more likely to:

  • Have high blood pressure.
  • Have high triglyceride levels.
  • Have low levels of "good" cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein, or HDL).
  • Have a thicker left ventricle, which can affect how well the heart pumps.
  • Be overweight.

Young people with insulin-dependent (type 1) diabetes have an increased risk of CAD and heart attack.

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