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Keep Your Heart Healthy
What do my heart and blood vessels do?
Your heart and blood vessels make up your circulatory system. Your heart is a big muscle that pumps blood through your body. Your heart pumps blood carrying oxygen to large blood vessels, called arteries, and small blood vessels, called capillaries. Other blood vessels, called veins, carry blood back to the heart.
What can I do to prevent heart disease and stroke?
Keep your blood glucose under control. You can see if it is under control by having an A1C test at least twice a year. The A1C test tells you your average blood glucose for the past 2 to 3 months. The target for most people is below 7.
Keep your blood pressure under control. Have it checked at every doctor visit. The target for most people is below 130/80.
Keep your cholesterol under control. Have it checked at least once a year. The targets for most people are:
How do my blood vessels get clogged?
Narrowed and clogged blood vessels make it harder for enough blood to get to all parts of your body. This can cause problems.
When arteries become narrowed and clogged, you may have heart problems:
Chest pain, also called angina. When you have angina, you feel pain in your chest, arms, shoulders, or back. You may feel the pain more when your heart beats faster, such as when you exercise. The pain may go away when you rest. You also may feel very weak and sweaty. If you do not get treatment, chest pain may happen more often. If diabetes has damaged the heart nerves, you may not feel the chest pain.
Heart attack. A heart attack happens when a blood vessel in or near the heart becomes blocked. Not enough blood can get to that part of the heart muscle. That area of the heart muscle stops working, so the heart is weaker. During a heart attack, you may have chest pain along with nausea, indigestion, extreme weakness, and sweating.
What are the warning signs of a heart attack?
Or, you may have no warning signs at all. Or they may come and go.
How does heart disease cause high blood pressure?
Narrowed blood vessels leave a smaller opening for blood to flow through. It is like turning on a garden hose and holding your thumb over the opening. The smaller opening makes the water shoot out with more pressure. In the same way, narrowed blood vessels lead to high blood pressure. Other factors, such as kidney problems and being overweight, also can lead to high blood pressure.
Many people with diabetes also have high blood pressure. If you have heart, eye, or kidney problems from diabetes, high blood pressure can make them worse.
A smaller opening makes the water pressure higher. In the same way, clogged blood vessels lead to high blood pressure.
You will see your blood pressure written with two numbers separated by a slash. For example: 120/70. Keep your first number below 130 and your second number below 80.
If you have high blood pressure, ask your doctor how to lower it. Your doctor may ask you to take blood pressure medicine every day. Some types of blood pressure medicine can also help keep your kidneys healthy.
To lower your blood pressure, your doctor may also ask you to lose weight; eat more fruits and vegetables; eat less salt and high-sodium foods such as canned soups, luncheon meats, salty snack foods, and fast foods; and drink less alcohol.
To lower blood pressure, get to a healthy weight.
What are the warning signs of a stroke?
How can clogged blood vessels hurt my legs and feet?
What can I do to prevent or control peripheral vascular disease?
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