How can I lower my chances of a heart attack or stroke if I have diabetes?
Taking care of your diabetes is important to help you take care of your heart. You can lower your chances of having a heart attack or stroke by taking the following steps to manage your diabetes to keep your heart and blood vessels healthy.

Develop or maintain healthy lifestyle habits
Developing or maintaining healthy lifestyle habits can help you manage your diabetes and prevent heart disease.

  • Follow your healthy eating plan.
  • Make physical activity part of your routine.
  • Stay at or get to a healthy weight
  • Get enough sleep.

Learn more about these tips to manage diabetes. Develop or maintain healthy lifestyle habits. Physical activity can help you manage your diabetes and may help you cope with stress.

Watch a video about what you can do to keep your heart healthy.

Learn to manage stress
Managing diabetes is not always easy. Feeling stressed, sad, or angry is common when you are living with diabetes. You may know what to do to stay healthy but may have trouble sticking with your plan over time. Long-term stress can raise your blood glucose and blood pressure, but you can learn ways to lower your stress. Try deep breathing, gardening, taking a walk, doing yoga, meditating, doing a hobby, or listening to your favorite music. Learn more about healthy ways to cope with stress.

Take medicine to protect your heart
Medicines may be an important part of your treatment plan. Your doctor will prescribe medicine based on your specific needs. Medicine may help you

  • meet your A1C (blood glucose), blood pressure, and cholesterol goals.
  • reduce your risk of blood clots, heart attack, or stroke.
  • treat angina, or chest pain that is often a symptom of heart disease. (Angina can also be an early symptom of a heart attack.)

Ask your doctor whether you should take aspirin. Aspirin is not safe for everyone. Your doctor can tell you whether taking aspirin is right for you and exactly how much to take.

Statins can reduce the risk of having a heart attack or stroke in some people with diabetes. Statins are a type of medicine often used to help people meet their cholesterol goals. Talk with your doctor to find out whether taking a statin is right for you.

Talk with your doctor if you have questions about your medicines. Before you start a new medicine, ask your doctor about possible side effects and how you can avoid them. If the side effects of your medicine bother you, tell your doctor. Don’t stop taking your medicines without checking with your doctor first. Take medicines as prescribed.

How do doctors diagnose heart disease in diabetes?
Doctors diagnose heart disease in diabetes  based on

  • your symptoms
  • your medical and family history
  • how likely you are to have heart disease
  • a physical exam
  • results from tests and procedures

Tests used to monitor your diabetes—A1C, blood pressure, and cholesterol—help your doctor decide whether it is important to do other tests to check your heart health. Your health care provider will do a physical exam.

What are the warning signs of heart attack and stroke?
Call 9-1-1 right away if you have warning signs of a heart attack:

  • pain or pressure in your chest that lasts longer than a few minutes or goes away and comes back
  • pain or discomfort in one or both of your arms or shoulders; or your back, neck, or jaw
  • shortness of breath
  • sweating or light-headedness
  • indigestion or nausea (feeling sick to your stomach)
  • feeling very tired

Treatment works best when it is given right away. Warning signs can be different in different people. You may not have all of these symptoms. If you have angina, it’s important to know how and when to seek medical treatment. Women sometimes have nausea and vomiting, feel very tired (sometimes for days), and have pain in the back, shoulders, or jaw without any chest pain. People with diabetes-related nerve damage may not notice any chest pain.

What are the warning signs of heart attack and stroke?

Call 9-1-1 right away if you have warning signs of a stroke, including sudden

  • weakness or numbness of your face, arm, or leg on one side of your body
  • confusion, or trouble talking or understanding
  • dizziness, loss of balance, or trouble walking
  • trouble seeing out of one or both eyes
  • sudden severe headache

If you have any one of these warning signs, call 9-1-1. You can help prevent permanent damage by getting to a hospital within an hour of a stroke. Call 9-1-1 if you have the warning signs of a heart attack or stroke. Treatment works best when given right away.

Thanks to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease for this helpful and informative content!