Questions You
Should Ask
Your Doctor

  1. I have diabetes. Do I need to get my heart checked?
  2. Do you think I am at risk for heart attack or stroke?
  3. What can I do to protect my heart?
  4. I have diabetes for years, is it too late to take care of my heart now?
  5. I am diabetic, how can I prevent heart problems or stroke?
  6. I have diabetes, do you think I need to see a heart specialist?
  7. Are heart problems caused by diabetes preventable?

FAQs

About Diabetes & Your Heart

I have had diabetes for years and I seem to be doing fine. What are my chances of getting heart disease?

The longer you have had diabetes, the higher the chances that you will develop heart disease 1. People with diabetes are 4 times more likely to develop heart disease 2. Please speak to your doctor and diabetes educator to learn how you can protect your heart.

If I have symptoms of heart disease, who should I see to get my heart checked?

You should see a heart specialist or cardiologist as soon as possible to get your heart checked. There are many hospitals, public and private, that offer such tests.

If I already have a heart disease, will medication make a difference?

If you have heart disease 1, doctors would usually prescribe medication to prevent further complications in your heart. Besides that, it is also important to maintain a balanced diet and be physically active to keep your heart healthy. With all the efforts combined, it should make a difference 1.

Are there special exercises I can do to lower my risk of developing heart disease?

Any form of physical activity is good for your body, especially if you have diabetes. You could walk, jog, or do some weight training. If you are able to take on more challenging workouts, you could even try high intensity interval training (HIIT) – but check with your doctor or diabetes educator before doing so 1.

Are there support groups and NGOs where I can get
support for diabetes and heart health?

There are several NGOs that offer support and education on diabetes and heart management. You may visit their website to find out more.

Malaysian Diabetes Educators Society (MDES)

The Malaysian Diabetes Educators Society (MDES) is one of the leading Malaysian organisations for healthcare professionals providing diabetes education and management. MDES aims to improve the quality of life for people affected by diabetes, as well as those who are at risk, by enhancing self-management skills through education and public awareness.

National Diabetes Institute (NADI)

National Diabetes Institute (NADI) is established to provide a dedicated and comprehensive service for diabetic patients to prevent and control diabetes and its complications.

About Diabetes

What should I do if I have been diagnosed with diabetes?

Speak to your doctor and diabetes educator to understand your condition and how you can manage it. While learning about how to manage your diet and lifestyle, you should also find out about your risk for any complications and how you can prevent them.

How will diabetes affect my life?

If you have diabetes, it means you will need to be more mindful about blood glucose levels through healthy eating and an active lifestyle 4.

Depending on your condition and the lifestyle that you had before, the changes could be minimal or drastic. Ask your doctor and diabetes educator about how you can manage your condition better.

How often would I have to attend follow-ups with my doctor?

This will depend on your condition and the doctor’s discretion. Some patients need to do so once a month while others only do once every 3 or 6 months. Speak to your doctor and diabetes educator to find out how often you should go back for follow-ups.

Will I never be able to eat my favourite food again?

If it is high in sugar, carbohydrates, or saturated fat, then it is advisable to avoid them as they can spike up your blood glucose level 4. But it is understandable that sometimes you just want a small treat. So ask your doctor and diabetes educator about it.

My family members have diabetes. Does this mean I might
eventually develop it too?

Yes, you have a higher chance of developing diabetes at a younger age 5. It is very important to lead a healthy and active lifestyle in order to maintain your health. You should also attend regular checkups – at least once a year. Speak to your doctor to find out what you can do to prevent it.

References:

1 National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Diabetes, Heart Disease, and Stroke. Available on https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/preventing-problems/heart-disease-stroke. Last accessed 14 August 2019.

2 Card Fail Rev. 2017 Apr; 3(1): 52–55)

3 Einarson, T. R., Acs, A., Ludwig, C., & Panton, U. H. (2018). Prevalence of cardiovascular disease in type 2 diabetes: a systematic literature review of scientific evidence from across the world in 2007-2017. Cardiovascular Diabetology, 17(1), 1-1. doi: 10.1186/s12933-018-0728-6 

4 Mayo Clinic. Type 2 Diabetes, Diagnosis and Treatment. Available on: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/type-2-diabetes/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20351199. Last accessed 17 July 2019

5 Mayo Clinic. Type 2 Diabetes, Symptoms and Causes. Available on: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/type-2-diabetes/symptoms-causes/syc-20351193. Last accessed 16 July 2019