Diabetes And Stroke
The television station I work for just sponsored a “Smart Family Expo” at our local shopping mall. Of course, the reporters and anchors all had to make appearances throughout the day. I was assigned to interview people who were taking advantage of the expo and how it helped them.
Around 40 booths were set up and included ways to Protect Your Family, the title of a new series of reports we’ve been doing throughout the month of November. Local financial firms, colleges, state police and hospitals set up the booths. In just the hour or so I was there, the most popular booth was where nurses were giving free cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar tests. I was encouraged to see so many people interested in their own health. It encouraged me to put down my microphone and have the tests done myself.
My cholesterol was 186 which is good and the sugar count was somewhere in the 70s, “excellent” the nurse told me. It really gives you a good feeling when you get a clean bill of health. Of course, these simple health checks shouldn’t replace your routine doctor visits, but they are good to do in between visits. The nurse told me if a person’s numbers are too high, it is basically a heads-up to see the doctor. And not only for the immediate concern at hand, like heart disease and diabetes, but also for what those conditions can cause down the road … stroke.
High blood pressure is the number one risk for stroke. But I wasn’t sure how diabetes could cause a stroke. There are two main types of diabetes. The first is Type 1, which develops when the body stop producing insulin, which in turn controls the levels of glucose in the bloodstream. The second it Type 2, the most common. In fact, 90 percent of people with diabetes have this form. It’s when the body produces insulin but is unable to respond to it, or when the body can’t produce enough insulin.
My doctor told me that having diabetes could double; sometimes triple your risk of stroke. The reason is because diabetes adversely affects the arteries, causing atherosclerosis. I had to write that one down. Atherosclerosis is when the large or small blood vessels become stiff or narrow. When this happens, it usually occurs in all arteries, not just the one with the clot. When that happens, the bypass arteries can even have trouble delivering blood to the brain.
Another reason is the lack or resistance of insulin in the body. Because of this, high levels of glucose build up in the bloodstream called hyperglycaemia. This greatly increases the risk of stroke. In fact, stroke is responsible for about 15 percent of deaths in people with Type 2 diabetes.
I do know some people with diabetes take aspirin to lower their risk of stroke. Low doses of aspirin (81-325 mg a day) is recommended for men and women with diabetes who are over the age of 30 and at high risk for heart disease and stroke. Of course, talk to your doctor first and make sure he or she believes aspirin therapy is right for you because if you have certain medical conditions, aspirin may not be recommended.
Researchers are also looking for new drugs to help. In fact, in an 18-month study comparing the effects of two drugs in patients with Type 2 diabetes, one drug appeared to stop progression of artery narrowing. Pioglitazone, a drug in a class of drugs called thiazolidinediones, makes muscle and fat tissue more sensitive to insulin.
But, I do hope whenever you see a free health checkup booth, take advantage of it. It’s always better to catch problems in the early stages than to wait for the worst to happen.
Published On: November 22, 2006