More chronic conditions that raise your risk of heart disease:

3. Type 2 diabetes (diabetes mellitus)

Type 2 diabetes (diabetes mellitus) occurs when the body doesn’t make enough insulin or cannot properly use the insulin it produces. It’s the most common form of diabetes, with 90 to 95 per cent of all diabetes cases classified as type 2 diabetes. Studies have shown that having type 2 diabetes greatly increases your risk of heart disease.

Dr Nadira Hamid, Associate Consultant, Department of Cardiology, National Heart Centre Singapore (NHCS), a member of the SingHealth group, says that in Singapore, about 10 per cent of the population aged 18 to 69 has type 2 diabetes.

Risk factors of type 2 diabetes:

  • Excess body weight – The more overweight you are, the more insulin-resistant your body may become, causing glucose levels in your blood to rise.
  • Above the age of 45 – The risk of type 2 diabetes increases with age, especially after 45
  • Family history – If diabetes runs in your family, your risk of getting it is higher. However, a healthy diet and regular exercise can help mitigate this risk.

If these factors apply to you, you should pay special attention to the signs and symptoms of diabetes, which include:

  • Low energy
  • Increased thirst and need to urinate
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Blurred vision
  • Constant hunger
  • Itchy skin or ‘pins and needles’ sensations in the limbs
  • Slow healing of wounds

To prevent type 2 diabetes:

  • Eat healthy – Choose foods low in fat and calories, and include more vegetables and whole grains in your diet.
  • Exercise regularly – Aim for 30 mins of moderate physical activity daily such as brisk walking, cycling or swimming. If you are unable to accommodate a long workout, spread it into smaller sessions throughout the day.
  • Maintain a healthy weight – Reduce your risk of diabetes by keeping a healthy weight through proper eating and regular exercise.

See previous pages to learn about how high blood pressure (hypertension) and high cholesterol raise your risk of heart disease.

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