I love sharing my family history with my children and going over old family albums. There is something so special about showing them old pictures, guessing who is who and recounting the stories that go with each picture. We have a family tree that has been maintained over generations and the children love tracing family ties.
An important part of our family history is our family medical history which reveals the history of disease in our family and helps identify patterns that might be relevant to our own health. My grandfather had type 2 diabetes and I saw his struggles with the disease. He was an extremely active person who loved to give back to the community. He was a loving and involved grandfather and I cherish the time I spent with him.
However, diabetes affected more than just his blood sugar levels. He had many medical struggles associated with his diabetes including with his feet (due to decreased blood flow to his feet) and his heart.
Diabetes is a chronic disease in which the body cannot make or properly use insulin. There is a lot more to diabetes: it can affect many different parts of our body negatively, including our heart. People with diabetes can develop heart failure without having had a heart attack, coronary artery disease, or high blood pressure.
Recent research has shown that if you have type 2 diabetes, controlling your blood sugar alone may not be enough to protect your heart. And people with type 2 diabetes can develop heart disease 10 to 15 years earlier than people who do not have diabetes.
If you have type 2 diabetes and a history of heart disease, it is important to talk to your doctor about possible treatment options.
We can reduce the risk of diabetes by keeping a healthy weight, eating a nutritious diet, staying physically active, quitting smoking and paying attention to our overall health by ensuring a good night’s sleep.
Being of South Asian descent can also increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. In fact, South Asians are 3 to 5 times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than the Caucasian population. If you have a family history of type 2 diabetes and you are of South Asian descent, ensure that you speak to your doctor about your risk factors.
It is important for people with type 2 diabetes to ask their doctor about their heart health, as well as screening for heart disease.
Approximately 1 in 2 people with type 2 diabetes will die of heart disease, which includes heart attack and heart failure.
Heart disease symptoms can be silent. You can use the risk assessment tool on myheartmatters.ca to help determine your personal risk of heart disease.
Head over to www.myheartmatters.ca and participate in the Risk Assessment Tool. It takes approximately five minutes to finish the assessment. Do remember that you will not receive medical advice and only information about your health based on your response. Your privacy is important and the information you provide will not be stored.
I hope this blog post helps you think about your health and family medical history. Take care and stay safe!
Disclaimer: This blog was sponsored by two of Canada’s leading pharmaceutical research-based companies. All opinions are my own.