Diabetes, Your Heart and Kidneys: A Triangle of Risk

With type 2 diabetes, your risks for developing heart disease and chronic kidney disease are also elevated. Diabetes is so interconnected to both; recent studies have shown that therapies for diabetes can also improve outcomes for heart and kidney health.

How It’s All Connected

You may not think of your kidneys and heart as a connected system, but they are.

How? Well, your kidneys are powerful filters that remove toxins from your blood through a complex network of arteries, veins, and vessels – which are part of your cardiovascular system.

Type 2 diabetes can put a lot of stress on all these structures – both in your heart and in your kidneys. There’s an overlap between their risks and care. To stay healthy, it’s vital for you and your doctor to keep tabs on both.

But this is good news – with the right care plan, you can help manage your type 2 diabetes and fight heart and kidney disease all at once. What’s good for your heart is also good for your kidneys.

What Are My Risks?

When you manage your diabetes, you also manage your risk of heart and kidney disease. Remember, your diabetes, cardiovascular and kidney risks are all interconnected. Talk to your doctor about reducing your risk.

Research shows that:

  • Approximately 1/3 of people with diabetes develop kidney disease.1
  • Diabetes can damage blood vessels in your kidneys, which can eventually lead to chronic kidney disease.
  • High blood pressure can worsen kidney damage and various cardiovascular risks, like heart attack and stroke.

The Right Plan, The Best Support

If you have diabetes, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed at times. But when it comes to your health, remember that you’re in the driver’s seat. You’re very capable of building a healthier life – and you can make changes today that can have a positive impact on your body and your future.

Try one of these to get started:

  • At your next appointment, ask your doctor if your diabetes is affecting your kidney function.
  • Keep your blood glucose, cholesterol and blood pressure in target ranges.
  • Eat Smart with a healthy, balanced diet.
  • Move More with daily exercise. The goal is 150 active minutes per week.
  • Take your medications as prescribed. Talk to your doctor if you have side effects that impact you.
  • Get your specialists, (like the cardiologist and endocrinologist) on the same page.
  • Stay positive! Scientists are making exciting new discoveries every day that will lead to a brighter future for patients who have diabetes and/or heart disease.

One of the most important things to keep in mind is that everyone’s health journey is different, especially with type 2 diabetes. You may have some days where it feels like it’s more difficult to manage or some days where it’s easier. But your efforts do make a difference! Ultimately, what matters is making progress toward your goals.

If you need an extra boost in the support department, join the Know Diabetes By Heart™ initiative. The American Heart Association and American Diabetes Association have teamed up to bring you the best science-backed tips and tools, resources for people living with type 2 and expert advice on managing all your risks.

Here’s a resource to keep with you and keep you motivated – Heart Health: The link between Type 2 Diabetes and Chronic Kidney Disease.

1. CDC National Chronic Kidney Disease Fact Sheet, 2017. www.cdc.gov/kidneydisease. Accessed September 16, 2019 (from NKF T2D and KD sheet)