Nebraska Diabetes Prevention
and Control Program

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Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular disease is defined as all disease of the heart and blood vessels. Heart attack and stroke are two of the most common forms of cardiovascular disease.

Heart Disease and Stroke

Diabetes itself is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Also, many people with diabetes have other conditions that increase their chance of developing heart disease and stroke. These conditions are called risk factors. One risk factor for heart disease and stroke is having a family history of heart disease. If one or more members of your family had a heart attack at an early age (before age 55 for men or 65 for women), you may be at increased risk.

You can’t change whether heart disease runs in your family, but you can take steps to control the other risk factors for heart disease listed here:

  • Central obesity (carrying extra weight around the waist as opposed to the hips)
  • Abnormal blood cholesterol levels
  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking

Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD)
Peripheral arterial disease, also called PAD, occurs when blood vessels in the legs are narrowed or blocked by fatty deposits and blood flow to your feet and legs decreases. Just having diabetes puts you at risk, but your risk is even greater under the following conditions:

  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Abnormal blood cholesterol levels
  • Overweight
  • Not physically active
  • Over age 50
  • History of heart disease, or you've had a heart attack or a stroke
  • Family history of heart disease, heart attacks, or strokes

If you have PAD, you have an increased risk for heart attack and stroke. An estimated one out of every three people with diabetes over the age of 50 have this condition. Many people with diabetes and PAD do not have any symptoms or believe that their mild leg pain or trouble walking is just a sign of getting older. Other symptoms include numbness, tingling or coldness in the lower legs or feet, sores or infections on your feet or legs that heal slowly, leg pain, and particularly when walking or exercising, which disappear after a few minutes of rest.

PAD can be treated with physical activity, medication, and surgery.

For more information visit:
American Diabetes Association. Living with Diabetes: Complications
National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse (NDIC)
American Heart Association
Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention

Contact Information
Diabetes Prevention and Control Program
Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services
P.O. Box 95026
Lincoln, NE 68509-5026

Phone: (402) 471-4411
1-800-745-9311 (ask for Diabetes Section)

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