Diabetes and coronary heart disease (CHD) are two of the most common diseases in the USA. Millions of people struggle with one or both conditions and when Dr. Lukaczer works with diabetes patients, they often ask about the long-term effects of the disease.

As a chronic illness, diabetes can lead to negative secondary issues if not addressed early. Research has shown that coronary heart disease is a major consequence of untreated diabetes. In this article, we will show you how diabetes affects the cardiovascular system and what steps you can take to reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke.

Dr. Lukaczer takes a functional medicine approach to diabetes. This means looking at root causes to find personalized strategies for patient wellness. At its core, diabetes is a hormone imbalance, and many things like stress, toxins, genetics, and diet can influence how your body produces hormones. By restoring balance, you can find lasting relief from the worst diabetes symptoms.

To learn more about preventing diabetes and heart disease, check out our group health class on the subject.

Understanding Diabetes and Coronary Heart Disease

Diabetes is a chronic metabolic disorder characterized by high blood sugar levels. It occurs when the body either fails to produce sufficient insulin (type 1 diabetes) or becomes resistant to insulin’s effects (type 2 diabetes).

Coronary heart disease refers to the narrowing of the blood vessels that supply oxygen and nutrients to the heart muscles. This narrowing is typically caused by the buildup of fatty deposits called plaques within the arteries, leading to reduced blood flow and potentially triggering various heart-related complications.

So, what’s the connection between the two conditions? Extensive research suggests that diabetes and coronary heart disease are intricately linked, with diabetes acting as a significant risk factor for the development and progression of CHD.

Several key factors include:

Insulin Resistance and Inflammation

Insulin resistance, a hallmark of type 2 diabetes, is thought to promote the formation of plaques in the arteries. Additionally, chronic inflammation accompanying diabetes can damage blood vessels and accelerate the development of atherosclerosis, the underlying process in CHD.


Diabetes often leads to dyslipidemia, characterized by elevated levels of triglycerides and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) and decreased levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C). This lipid profile is associated with an increased risk of atherosclerosis and subsequent CHD.


Prolonged periods of high blood glucose levels, a characteristic feature of diabetes, can contribute to endothelial dysfunction, oxidative stress, and impaired nitric oxide production. These factors further promote the development of atherosclerosis and increase the risk of CHD.

Shared Risk Factors

Diabetes shares many common risk factors with CHD, such as obesity, hypertension, and a sedentary lifestyle. The presence of diabetes can amplify the adverse effects of these risk factors, exacerbating the risk of CHD development.

Strategies for Preventing Diabetes and Heart Disease

Ideally, at-risk people will want to prevent their diabetes from developing in the first place. This means being aware of biological predispositions and making sure prediabetes doesn’t advance any further. It’s also worth noting that many of the same triggers and lifestyle habits that lead to diabetes can also lead to heart disease.

Diabetes occurs when the body becomes resistant to insulin. This resistance leads to a number of secondary conditions, such as hyperinsulinemia. As the body becomes unable to process insulin, it produces more and more insulin. The issue with this compensatory function is that this extra insulin is not used and ends up floating around in the bloodstream. Eventually, this combination of resistance and insulin production leads to full Type 2 diabetes.

Many studies show that insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia are associated with high blood pressure and atherosclerosis.

Thankfully, functional medicine and lifestyle changes can help you reverse these insulin imbalances. You can adopt healthy habits that can prevent both diabetes and heart disease. Take a look at this list of strategies and see what you can implement in your own life.

Healthy Eating Habits

Adopting a balanced and nutritious diet is crucial for preventing both diabetes and coronary heart disease. Focus on consuming whole grains, lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats while limiting the intake of processed foods, sugary beverages, and foods high in saturated and trans fats. Consult with a registered dietitian for personalized dietary recommendations.

Regular Physical Activity

Engage in regular physical activity to maintain a healthy weight, improve insulin sensitivity, and strengthen cardiovascular health. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise each week, along with strength training exercises twice a week.

Weight Management

Maintaining a healthy weight is crucial for preventing both diabetes and coronary heart disease. If overweight or obese, strive to achieve and maintain a body mass index (BMI) within the healthy range (18.5-24.9 kg/m²). A combination of healthy eating and regular physical activity is key to achieving weight management goals.

Avoid Tobacco Use

Smoking is a major risk factor for coronary heart disease and increases the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes. If you smoke, seek professional help or join cessation programs to quit smoking. Avoid exposure to secondhand smoke as well.

Limit Alcohol Consumption

Excessive alcohol consumption can contribute to the development of both diabetes and coronary heart disease. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. It is generally recommended that men limit their intake to two standard drinks per day, while women should have no more than one standard drink per day.

Regular Health Check-ups

Regular health check-ups are essential for early detection and management of risk factors associated with diabetes and coronary heart disease. Monitor blood pressure, blood glucose levels, and lipid profiles regularly. Discuss any concerns with your healthcare provider and follow their recommendations for preventive measures.

Stress Management

Chronic stress can impact both diabetes and coronary heart disease. Implement stress management techniques such as mindfulness, meditation, exercise, and engaging in activities you enjoy. Adequate sleep and social support also contribute to stress reduction.

Medication Compliance

If prescribed medication for diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol, ensure proper adherence to the prescribed regimen. Follow up with your healthcare provider regularly to monitor the effectiveness of the medication and make any necessary adjustments.

Education and Awareness

Stay informed about the risk factors, symptoms, and preventive measures related to diabetes and coronary heart disease. Attend educational programs, read reliable sources, and engage in discussions with healthcare professionals to enhance your knowledge and make informed decisions regarding your health.

Genetic Counseling

If you have a family history of diabetes or coronary heart disease, consider seeking genetic counseling to understand your risk factors and develop personalized prevention strategies.

Learn More About the Links Between Diabetes and Coronary Heart Disease Through Our Group Health Class

Both diabetes and heart disease are serious issues, and while cholesterol and blood sugar(glucose) are important risks, that is often the extent of what is assessed in a standard approach. It’s clear that the conventional prevention strategy does not give us as clear an idea of all the tools available to assess our risk, nor does it dive deep into all how we can decrease our risk.

Let Dr. Lukaczer guide you through a functional medicine approach to wellness. You’ll gain the information and strategies you need to make a noticeable difference in your health and outcomes.


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