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Diabetic Heart Disease

Did you know, if you have type 2 diabetes, you’re more likely to develop heart disease than those without diabetes? You’re also at greater risk of having a heart attack or stroke.

High blood sugar = higher risk

  • Over time, high blood sugar caused by type 2 diabetes can cause damage to your blood vessels and the nerves that control your heart and blood vessels
  • The longer you have type 2 diabetes, the greater your risk for developing heart disease

Heart attack and stroke

  • People with type 2 diabetes who reach their A1C goal are still at risk for heart attack and stroke
  • When you have type 2 diabetes, your risk of cardiovascular disease is up to 4x greater compared with someone without diabetes
  • A significant percentage of heart attacks in people with diabetes are clinically “silent” (no symptoms)

Diabetic heart disease is heart disease that develops in people with diabetes. Heart disease, also known as cardiovascular disease, refers to conditions that involve narrowed or blocked blood vessels that can cause a heart attack, chest pain (angina), or a stroke. Conditions that affect your heart’s muscle, valve, or rhythm are also considered forms of heart disease. Diabetic heart disease includes:

Coronary heart disease (CHD)

  • Plaque begins to cause a narrowing of the coronary arteries and reduce the flow of blood to your heart muscle. A plaque buildup increases your risk for blood clots in your arteries that can eventually block the flow of blood
  • Can cause chest pain or discomfort, irregular heartbeat, heart attacks, or death

Heart failure

  • Occurs when your heart is unable to pump the amount of blood that your body needs
  • May make you tired very quickly and force you to limit your physical activity
  • CHD can cause heart failure by making your heart muscle weaker over time

Diabetic cardiomyopathy

  • Damages the structure of the heart and the way it works
  • Can cause heart failure and irregular heartbeats

If you or a loved one has Type 2 Diabetes, talk to your medical professional at the Mt. Ayr Medical Clinic about your risk of heart attack or stroke.

Don’t Skip Your Annual Physical!

Steve Smith is surrounded by the RCH healthcare team that got him on his feet again.

Steve Smith’s story is one all too familiar for many men. He was active, worked outside, felt healthy, and hadn’t been to a doctor in more than 20 years. Then one day, he “got to feeling kind of funky,” so he drove himself to the hospital. “I didn’t think I had anything wrong. I was just a little short of breath. I thought it was a fact of getting older,” he said. Physician assistant Ron Schafer was working that day. “He’s friends with my son. He sat with me while another doctor examined me,” Steve recalled. Before long, Steve was on a helicopter to Mercy Hospital in Des Moines, and although he didn’t know it, he was in really bad shape. “I had to have five heart bypasses, my kidneys were failing, and my blood sugar was through the roof. I had a heart attack and a stroke while I was on the operating table. They had to shock me back to life three times.”

The medical staff at the hospital called in his family members to prepare them. “They thought I was going to die,” he said. The team of doctors and nurses miraculously pulled him through. The cardiac team in Des Moines had told Steve that his left ventricle was only working at 24% when they discharged him. If he didn’t get it up to 35%, he would require a defibrillator. When he got back to Mt. Ayr, he told Jennifer England, his cardiac rehab therapist, that this was her task – to get him up to 35%. A couple of weeks after starting rehab, he had an echo-cardiogram and he was already at 46%. According to Steve, Jennifer did a “fantastic job.” He was really pleased that he didn’t have to travel for his 36 rehab sessions. “I was doing an hour a day, three days a week. I said to Jennifer, I feel like I lose ground if I don’t do it every day. So, she said, ‘come in every day!’ It was a really good thing to do and a good thing for me to get used to. It’s what I need to do for the rest of my life.”

Steve’s a Type 2 diabetic now, so he’s keeping an eye on his blood sugar. “I have to pay attention. I watch what I eat and check my blood sugar regularly. Exercise helps diabetes too. “I’m doing a lot of walking and I do some of the exercises we did in the hospital. I have to keep moving – even if I would rather take a nap in my recliner!” He walks around the square in Mt. Ayr once a day. If the weather is bad, he walks in the hospital.

Steve hadn’t spent a lot of time at the hospital before, but now he’s not scared of the doctors anymore. At 71 years old with a new lease on life, Steve has some advice for middle-aged men everywhere. “Get a physical every year. Know your numbers.” He adds, “For what I’ve been through, what more could they do to me?”

Call the Mt. Ayr Medical Clinic 641-464-4470 to schedule your annual physical.

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Diabetes and Vascular Disease

Jane Thomas appreciates the quality of care she receives at Ringgold County Hospital.

Jane Thomas knows a thing or two about surgeries. She’s had several, and there are more in her future. The Mt. Ayr resident and grandmother of four couldn’t be happier with her care at Ringgold County Hospital. Dr. Ed Wehling in particular has helped her with a variety of issues. “When Dr. Wehling came, I had a lot of trouble with abscesses. He’d take one out, and another one would appear. So he went into my stomach through my throat and looked around. After that, I had a panniculectomy. That’s when they remove a layer of fat on your lower abdomen,” she explained. “But before that, he worked  n my legs. I call it the ‘Roto-Rooter’ procedure! He opened up the arteries in my legs and it really helped.” Jane’s health issues can be attributed to her Type-2 diabetes. “I’ve had it for years. Usually I can keep my blood sugar under control. It was fine for five or six years, but now it’s up and down. We’re having a hard time getting anything to work.” She explained that it’s very difficult to lose weight because of the insulin she must take. “It’s a fat-storing hormone.” Even after she lost weight after the panniculectomy, it’s been difficult to get around. Her enthusiasm and good cheer hasn’t been dimmed, and she appreciates the staff at RCH. “We are so fortunate to have Dr. Wehling,” she said. “He’s so knowledgeable and is really top notch. At the same time, he’s a hoot!”

Ed Wehling, D.O

Dr. Wehling is keeping an eye on Jane’s cartoid arteries.  Right now they’re about 70% blocked. When they reach 75%, she’ll need another surgery to have them cleaned out. In the meantime, she’s scheduled with RCH orthopedic surgeon Dr. Homedan for a procedure on her arm as a result of a stroke she suffered several years ago. Jane’s positive attitude and good humor is obviously serving her well. “We are just so lucky to have this hospital and this staff in our small town,” she said. “The nurses provide such good care and the surgeons are the best.”

Diabetes and Vascular Disease

Diabetes is a disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches, and other food into energy needed for daily life. There are several types of diabetes, however Type 2 diabetes (previously called “adult onset diabetes”) is the most common type, accounting for 90-95% of all diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is associated with older age, obesity, physical inactivity, a family history of diabetes, a history of gestational diabetes, and race and ethnicity.

The majority of adults with diabetes die from vascular disease. Their risk is 2-4 times higher than adults without diabetes. Diabetes causes vascular disease if there is too much glucose in the blood. This excess glucose damages the blood vessels.

Diabetes is linked to several vascular diseases:
• Retinopathy, abnormal growth of blood vessels in your retina
• Nephropathy, a disease that damages the tiny filtering units of the kidney
• Neuropathy, a condition causing a loss of sensation in the feet and toes
• Atherosclerosis, hardening and narrowing of the arteries
• Stroke, the sudden death of brain cells due to lack of oxygen

Complications from diabetes may be prevented by:
• Eating well-balanced meals in the correct amounts to keep blood sugar levels as close to normal (non-diabetes level) as possible. Managing your diet so that you are eating a wide variety of foods including vegetables, whole grains, fruits, non-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, poultry, and fish.
• Regular physical activity to lower your blood glucose (sugar), blood pressure, and cholesterol. It also reduces your risk for heart disease and stroke, relieves stress, and strengthens your heart, muscles, and bones. In addition, regular activity helps insulin work better, improves your blood circulation, and keeps your joints flexible.
• Losing some weight if you’re overweight. People with diabetes are more likely to be overweight and to have high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
• Stop smoking. Both smoking and diabetes put you at risk of vascular disease, and together they can kill you.

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