Diabetes and heart failure can be a troubling pair

Diabetes and heart failure can be a troubling pair – yet new treatments may provide positive outcomes

Type 2 diabetes and heart failure can be a troubling pair. They can threaten your health, decrease your quality of life and increase your care costs. But there is good news if you’re dealing with both conditions. Recent studies have found new treatments for diabetes may also improve heart failure outcomes.

Many of the risk factors behind type 2 diabetes and heart failure are similar, yet health care providers are sometimes left scratching their heads over how to care for people with both, according to a scientific statement from the American Heart Association and the Heart Failure Society of America.

People with type 2 diabetes, characterized by elevated blood sugar levels, are two times more likely to develop heart failure than someone without diabetes. But heart failure, a condition in which the heart fails to efficiently pump oxygenated blood through the body, also is a risk factor for diabetes.
Keeping careful tabs on both is vital to getting good care.

If you have heart failure, you might see a cardiologist. If you have diabetes, you may visit your primary care doctor or endocrinologist. Ideally your patient care teams will be aligned and aware of how medications used for one condition affect the outcome of another.

“There’s so much new data coming out all the time. We want to bring attention to the fact that diabetes and heart failure have substantial overlap, and it’s important to stay up to date on new information,” said Dr. Shannon Dunlay, a heart failure cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

It’s also important to take proactive steps to improve your health, like getting regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight and eating a well-balanced diet. People with diabetes also need to keep their blood sugar levels under control. Talking to your healthcare provider is key.

It’s important that people with either or both conditions touch base regularly with their doctors, Dunlay said.
“There’s still a lot that we don’t know about how best to manage patients with diabetes and heart failure, but a number of ongoing studies will help to elucidate things further,” she said. “This is an exciting area in medicine and science right now, and we’re going to find a lot of opportunities to improve patient management and outcomes.”

Here are more tips:

How to reduce your risk of heart failure

Millions of people with type 2 diabetes are leading healthy lives. Here are a few tips:
Be in the know. Talk to your doctor about how you can manage your risk for heart disease, including heart failure.

  • Get regular check-ups, take your medicine and follow a healthy diet. Keep moving, too! Your lifestyle has a big influence on controlling your diabetes and reducing your risk for heart disease.
  • You do you. Each person with type 2 diabetes has a unique journey. Using tools like medication guides, healthy menu plans and tips for exercising can set you on the right path.
  • Don’t lose hope. It’s an exciting area in medicine and science, and experts predict great opportunities to improve patient management and outcomes.

Talk to your doctor about your next steps and remember that you’re not alone. Talk to your doctor about your next steps and remember that you’re not alone. Find answers to your questions and sign up to receive our monthly newsletter with tips, recipes and more.