The Impact of Cardiovascular Risk Factors on Future Development of Type 2 Diabetes

August 09,2022 |
Woman sitting on a yoga mat looking at a laptop.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and over 34 million Americans are currently living with diabetes. These statistics can be scary, especially for those living with one or more risk factors for each. Unfortunately, these two conditions are not mutually exclusive. They’re closely intertwined and when individuals are affected by one, their risk of the other increases substantially. To help you further understand this relationship, consider the impact of cardiovascular risk factors on future development of type 2 diabetes.


Understanding Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular disease includes all types of diseases that affect the heart or blood vessels, such as coronary heart disease, congenital heart defects, heart attacks, stroke, arrhythmia, peripheral artery disease, and more. However, the cardiovascular risk factors for these tend to overlap, which is why they’re often simply referred to as cardiovascular disease.

Heart disease, or coronary heart disease, is the most common type of cardiovascular disease that affects individuals. It’s caused by a buildup of plaque in the coronary arteries, which are responsible for oxygenating your heart. Over time, the buildup can cause a decrease in blood flow, which can result in a heart attack or stroke. While there are some people who experience no symptoms of heart disease, many others express feeling a pressure, tightness, or pain in the chest along with shortness of breath, fatigue, or a feeling of dizziness and weakness. If you think that you or a loved one are having a heart attack or stroke call 9-1-1 immediately.


Important Information on Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes occurs when your body no longer utilizes insulin effectively or develops a complete resistance to the insulin being made. It’s been known to be caused by a combination unhealthy lifestyle habits like obesity and consuming ultra-processed foods in addition to several genetic factors. While there are several things individuals can do to help prevent type 2 diabetes, after the disease progresses it’s important to administer insulin and properly care for your body to avoid dangerous complications. One of the best ways to help prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes is to understand your risk factors and take preventative action in your everyday life.


The Relationship Between Type 2 Diabetes and Heart Disease

Heart disease is common in aging men and women, as diet and lifestyle habits begin to affect different systems in the body. However, individuals living with diabetes have two to four times increased risk of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality than individuals without diabetes. The younger an individual is when diabetes is diagnosed, the more likely they are to develop cardiovascular disease. Improperly managing diabetes can impact your circulatory system, which can result in high blood pressure and increase your risk of heart attack and stroke. Oftentimes risks are associated with poor diabetes management and unhealthy lifestyle decisions, but the relationship goes both ways.

Having certain risk factors of cardiovascular disease may also indicate an increased likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes in aging adults. In fact, studies show that certain cardiovascular disease risk factors could predict the onset of diabetes.


Common Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors

Studies show that certain cardiovascular disease risk factors are known for increasing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes in aging individuals. While the presence of one risk factor can predict the onset of disease, each additional one further enhanced the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Some of the most common cardiovascular disease risk factors that may predict type 2 diabetes are as follows:

High Plasminogen Activator Inhibitor-1

Plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1) acts as the primary blocker of plasminogen activator in plasma. Heightened levels of PAI-1 have been shown to increase the blocking of tissue-plasminogen activator, which can result in decreased clot breakdowns and blood clots. While the presence of elevated PAI-1s may be genetically linked, it can also be caused by obesity and insulin resistance. This makes increased PAI-1 levels a risk factor for both cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes throughout an individual’s life. Increased PAI-1 levels can also lead to complications such as retinopathy and chronic kidney disease.


Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is another cardiovascular risk factor that also predicts the onset of type 2 diabetes. This coexistence occurs due to the shared pathophysiology of both conditions in regard to their relationship to obesity and insulin resistance. 85% of individuals with type 2 diabetes had hypertension by the fifth decade of life, and 50% of those with hypertension experienced some degree of impaired glucose tolerance or type 2 diabetes.

Impaired Glucose Tolerance (IGT)

Impaired glucose tolerance is when blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but also not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. Oftentimes, this is also referred to as prediabetes. It’s understandable that prediabetes is an increased risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes, but it’s also a common risk factor for cardiovascular disease as it can affect the strength of arteries and blood flow.

High Triglycerides

Triglycerides are a specific type of fat that are found in your blood stream. They’re excess calories that aren’t used right away and are instead, stored in fat cells. When you need energy between meals, hormones within your body trigger the release of triglycerides to be used. However, if you eat far more calories than you burn on any given day, triglyceride levels can rise. High levels of triglycerides over time contribute to the hardening of arteries and the thickening of arterial walls, thus increasing your risk for cardiovascular disease. Similarly, high levels of triglycerides can lead to pancreatic inflammation (pancreatitis), which can increase your risk of developing insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.

Low HDL Cholesterol

There are two types of cholesterol—HDL and LDL. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol is bad, as it contributes to an increase of fatty deposits along the arterial walls. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol is good, as it helps remove bad cholesterol from your body and keeps your arteries clear. It’s been shown that low levels of HDL cholesterol can increase your risk for cardiovascular disease and the development of type 2 diabetes. This is likely because the causes of low HDL cholesterol are also things that can increase your risk of both, such as smoking, living a sedentary lifestyle, excess weight gain, poor diet, and genetics. If you have low HDL cholesterol, it’s important to work with your doctor to strengthen levels while simultaneously lowering LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.

There is additional overlap of cardiovascular disease risk factors that are also known risk factors for type 2 diabetes. These include an increase in age, family history of cardiovascular disease or diabetes, and smoking. Smoking is an extremely dangerous habit that increases your risk of various conditions and disorders. While it can be difficult, there are methods to help you quit. Talk to your doctor for smoking cessation tools and further advice on how to quit.


How to Lower Cardiovascular Risk

By taking proactive measures to lead a healthier lifestyle, you’ll lower both your risk of cardiovascular disease and your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. This can help enhance longevity and reduce the risk of ongoing complications or health problems. Some of the most effective ways to reduce your risk of both these conditions include the following:


If you have any warning signs of cardiovascular diseases, it’s important to see your doctor as soon as possible. Taking a proactive approach can be the difference between living a life with cardiovascular disease or type 2 diabetes and living a long, healthy life. If you’re struggling to maintain optimal heart health, your doctor can make the proper recommendations to help you prioritize your health and reduce the risk of further complications.

For those living with diabetes, always remember to monitor your blood glucose levels to reduce furthering your risk of cardiovascular diseases like heart attack or stroke. To help, opt for high-quality, medical grade equipment. Byram Healthcare is a nationwide supplier of diabetes management products. Our organization supports the efforts made by the American Heart Association to help raise awareness and work towards eradicating heart disease and stroke. To learn more, contact one of our representatives today.