Women, the elderly, and people with diabetes are less likely to have “typical” presentations of cardiovascular disease (CVD), more likely to receive delayed care, and more likely to have worse outcomes.
That makes what I’m about to say all the more important:
25% of Americans die of cardiovascular disease.
But almost 70% percent of those with diabetes will die of CVD.
These data compose statistics of both T1D & T2D.
Type 2 diabetes is characterized by insulin resistance and is part of the larger “metabolic syndrome” of obesity, hypertension, dyslipidemia, etc., all spurred by insulin resistance, each their own independent risk factor for CVD.
So these people are at more risk than T1Ds, who are insulin-deficient and not necessarily obese, right?
Who's Actually At Risk?
Meta-analyses show that the risk of CVD has wildly increased, among people with type 2 diabetes, but also (perhaps surprising to some) in T1D populations.
Why is this? Because people with type 1 diabetes are not exempt from metabolic syndrome.
What is Metabolic Syndrome?
It’s an array of metabolic conditions that increase a person’s risk for heart disease.
The conditions include:
- high blood pressure
- insulin resistance
- high levels of "bad" (LDL) cholesterol
Who Has It?
50% of people with type 1 diabetes are overweight or obese (compare that to the population average in America, which is 35-40%).
The reasons for this and the relationship between exogenous insulin administration, insulin resistance, glycemic control, obesity and metabolic syndrome need their own blog post entirely.
But the truth is that more and more people with type 1 diabetes are starting to look metabolically similar to people with type 2 diabetes.
How Do We Stop It?
Why is all of this happening? Why is metabolic syndrome becoming more apparent in all instances of diabetes, as well as non?
Diet. Although, not 100% to blame, our ways of eating play the majority role in all of this.
How do we fix it? Also diet!
When we stop eating the standard American Diet (processed foods, pre-packaged foods, pre-made foods), and start eating more real, whole foods, plant-based, Mediterranean-style foods, not only does our insulin resistance decrease but so does our cardiovascular risk.
This is so much more than just having a 100 mg/dL blood glucose reading or a perfect Dexcom graph; this is about taking into account the rest of our bodies.
It’s not just about eating whatever we want as long as we take insulin to cover for it; it’s about thinking how the foods (or, non) we put into our bodies directly affect the rest of our entire system, not just blood sugar.
The "we can eat whatever we want, as long as we give insulin for it” mentality doesn’t end well for anybody, especially if we want to avoid insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and CVD.
All of us—living with type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, prediabetes, or no diabetes—should be eating “[real] food, not too much, mostly plants,” for our health and our futures.