The first thing I do most days when I get home from work is get on the bike. My wife and I, 18 months ago, impulse bought a Peloton bike and it has been a game changer for both of us.

With no gear to pack up to go to the gym, with no commute time to get there, with no appointments to make, or classes to book, there are no excuses. Our bike is in the basement whenever we want to ride – and that has been at 5am, noon, and even after dinner before bed. 

I’m more grateful than ever to have such efficient access to great exercise as I get older. Here I am on the dark side of 50 and I find myself looking to what could lie ahead more and more. 

My grandfather is 96 but is slipping away with dementia and he has type 2 diabetes. My father was about my age when he had a triple bypass and heart disease is an issue throughout his family.

Heart Disease and Diabetes

Heart disease and diabetes on my family tree, that’s a nasty combination.

Diabetes is responsible for 30% of strokes and 40% of heart attacks in Canada. People with diabetes are also 3-4 times more likely to be admitted to hospital due to heart-related conditions.

November is Diabetes Awareness Month, and it always has me reflecting and taking stock of my health and how I’m managing it. I’ve lost and kept off over 20 pounds since we got the bike and the convenience has helped me maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Diet and exercise are a key component, but they’re not the only way people living with diabetes can control their heart health. There are medications that — along with diet and exercise — have been proven to lower the risk of dying from problems related to your heart and blood vessels.

How does heart disease happen?

Heart disease happens when the heart or the blood vessels supplying blood to the heart have been damaged. Diabetes alone is considered a risk factor for heart disease.

In addition to having diabetes, additional risk factors for heart disease include:

  • Having high blood pressure
  • Having high cholesterol
  • Being overweight
  • Not exercising
  • Smoking

So back to that convenient exercise machine in my basement. I don’t smoke, I’m increasing my exercise, and this month I’m off to the doctor to find out if my blood pressure and cholesterol numbers (which have been borderline in the past) are more under control.

That doctor’s appointment is so important to me. I’ve seen a doc once, maybe twice, in the past decade. That’s something that – at my age on the dark side of 50 –  needs to change to make sure I’m keeping myself in line, monitoring the risk factors I have in my family tree, and staying healthy.

Talk To Your Doctor, Assess Your Risk

While controlling blood sugar is important in managing diabetes, it may not be enough to protect the heart. The good news is that recent advances have been made in managing the risk of death from heart disease in people with diabetes.

Canadians with type 2 diabetes should speak with their doctor about steps they can take to help manage their risk of heart disease.

  • Approximately half of people with type 2 diabetes die due to heart disease.
  • People with diabetes are over three times more likely to be hospitalized for heart health problems than people without diabetes. 
  • Type 2 diabetes can lead to an early death from heart disease.

Visit myheartmatters.ca to learn more.

This post is sponsored by an alliance of Canada’s leading research-based pharmaceutical companies, but opinions are my own.

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