Diabetes, Your Heart and Kidneys: A Triangle of Risk

With T2D, your risks for developing heart disease and chronic kidney disease (CKD) are also elevated. Diabetes is linked to both and recent studies have shown that medications for diabetes can also improve outcomes for heart and kidney health.

Diabetes, Your Heart and Kidneys

The Connection Between Diabetes, Kidney Disease and Your Heart

You may not think of your kidneys and heart as a connected system, but they are. How? Your kidneys are powerful filters that remove toxins from your blood, which is moved through your body through blood vessels—a complex network of arteries, veins and capillaries—which is part of your cardiovascular system.

Type 2 diabetes can put a lot of stress on both your heart and your kidneys. To stay healthy, it’s important for you and your doctor to keep tabs on your risk for problems in both your heart and kidneys and to take care of problems you may have.

But this is good news—with the right care plan, you can manage type 2 diabetes, heart disease and kidney disease all at once. What’s good for your heart is also good for your kidneys. Recent studies have also shown that some medications for diabetes can also improve outcomes for heart and kidney health.

What are my Risks of Developing Kidney Disease?

When you manage your diabetes, you also manage your risk of heart disease and kidney disease. Remember, diabetes and cardiovascular and kidney risks are all connected to each other. Talk to your doctor about reducing your risk. Research shows that:

  • Approximately one-third of people with diabetes may have kidney disease.
  • Diabetes can damage blood vessels in your kidneys, which can eventually lead to CKD and, over time, kidney failure.
  • High blood pressure can worsen kidney damage and raise your risk for heart attack and stroke.

The Right Plan, The Best Support

If you have diabetes, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed at times. But when it comes to your health, remember that you’re in the driver’s seat. Make healthy changes today that can have a positive impact on your body and your future.

Try one or more of these tips to get started:

  • At your next appointment, ask your doctor if your diabetes is affecting your kidney function.
  • Keep your blood glucose (blood sugar), cholesterol and blood pressure to reach your target ranges.
  • Have a healthy, balanced eating plan.
  • Move more with daily exercise. The goal is 150 active minutes per week. This can be split into chunks throughout the week and throughout your day, any movement counts!
  • Take your medications as prescribed. Talk to your doctor if you have side effects that impact you.
  • Keep your entire health care team updated with your treatment plan (including your cardiologist and endocrinologist).
  • Stay positive and be an active member of your health care team

One of the most important things to keep in mind is that everyone’s health journey is different, especially with type 2 diabetes. You may have some days where it feels like it’s more difficult to manage or some days where it’s easier. But your efforts do make a difference! Ultimately, what matters is making progress toward your goals.

More Help for Managing Diabetes and Kidney Disease

If you need an extra boost in the support department, join the Know Diabetes By Heart™ initiative. The American Heart Association and American Diabetes Association have teamed up to bring you the best science-backed tips, tools and other resources for people living with type 2 diabetes along with expert advice on managing your risks.

Here’s a resource to keep with you and keep you motivated: Heart Health: The link between Type 2 Diabetes and Chronic Kidney Disease.

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