Diabetes and your heart

If you have diabetes, you are more likely to develop coronary heart disease than someone without diabetes.

Diabetes causes high levels of glucose in your blood.  This can affect the walls of your arteries, and make them more likely to develop fatty deposits (atheroma).

If atheroma builds up in your coronary arteries (the arteries that supply oxygen-rich blood to your heart) you will develop coronary heart disease, which can cause heart attack and angina.

Types of diabetes

Type one diabetes happens when your body cannot make insulin. This type usually affects children and young adults.

Type two diabetes occurs when your body can’t produce enough insulin or the insulin doesn’t work properly. Type two diabetes is more common and tends to develop gradually as people get older – usually after the age of 40.

It's closely linked with:

  • being overweight
  • being physically inactive
  • a family history of diabetes.

Some ethnic groups have a much higher rate of diabetes - particularly people of African Caribbean and South Asian origin.

Diabetes and your heart booklet

People with diabetes have a greater risk of developing heart disease than people who don't have diabetes. Keeping your diabetes under control will help protect your heart health as much as possible.

This booklet is for people who have diabetes, and for their families and friends. It may also be useful if you don't have diabetes but you have been told you may develop it in the future.

Order or download now

This booklet is also available to download in large print


What can I do to reduce my risk of developing diabetes?

You can greatly reduce your risk of developing Type two diabetes by controlling your weight and doing regular physical activity. 

The great news is that doing these things will also make you less likely to develop other cardiovascular diseases such as coronary heart disease and stroke - as well as being great for your general mental and physical wellbeing.

How can I protect my heart if I already have diabetes?

If you have diabetes, it’s very important to make sure that you control your blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol levels to help reduce your risk of coronary heart disease and other cardiovascular diseases.

To do this you can:

If you are diagnosed with diabetes, you may also need to take  a cholesterol-lowering medicine such as statins to help protect your heart.

Discuss diabetes online

Our scientists are fighting for every heartbeat

Your money helps us fund hundreds of top scientists all over the UK, working on more than a thousand different research projects.

They're all fighting to help heart patients: finding new, better treatments for people with heart and circulatory disease, and developing new ways to better prevent or diagnose it.

Donate now