People with type 1 and type 2 diabetes (especially women) are at higher risk of developing heart disease, and at an earlier age. Also, people with diabetes have a high rate of “silent” heart attacks, meaning they have no symptoms of a heart attack occurring (such as chest pain). Therefore, it is important to be screened regularly.
Heart disease is a general term that describes many heart conditions, but coronary artery disease (CAD) is the most common. CAD occurs when blood vessels in and around the heart are blocked or narrowed from atherosclerosis or plaque formation (hard deposits on the inner lining of your blood vessels). People living with diabetes are at higher risk, especially if your blood sugars have been high for some time. This can promote plaque formation to occur at a faster rate.
A heart attack, otherwise known as a Myocardial Infarction (MI), is when the heart is unable to receive blood which carries oxygen to the heart muscle. This can occur if the vessels around the heart are blocked or narrowed significantly. If the blood supply is not restored, then the cells of the heart muscle will die, often causing permanent damage.
A stroke, otherwise known as a Cerebral Vascular Accident (CVA), occurs when oxygen carrying blood cannot get to the brain. This can also be due to plaque formation in the vessels supplying blood to the brain or from blood clots that block blood flow. Without oxygen-rich blood, brain cells begin to die. If the blood supply is not restored, the affected part of the brain dies, causing disability and/or death.