How does Type 2 Diabetes and smoking make you at higher risk for heart disease?

Blog Post created by dr_hurt on Oct 23, 2009

There are increased risks associated with smoking in individuals with Type 2 diabetes mellitus. Smoking and diabetes can cause a substantial increase in hardening of the arteries or atherosclerosis. If you have Type 2 Diabetes, you are aware that you have increased risk for all-cause mortality. By smoking you increase that risk even higher and have greater potential for developing heart disease. Evidence suggests that the risk increases with the amount of tobacco used by the diabetic. That means that the total years and amount you smoke can play a significant factor in raising your risk.

There can be several reasons contributing to this risk. Smoking is associated with increases in blood concentrations of total cholesterol and very-low-density lipoprotein or “bad” cholesterol, decreases in high-density-lipoprotein or "good" cholesterol, and a greater degree of insulin resistance. Smoking also causes malfunctioning of the inner lining of the arteries or endothelial dysfunction which is the origin of hardening of the arteries. The above findings indicate that stopping smoking is one of the most important aspects of therapy in patients with diabetes. If you are a diabetic smoker and considering stopping smoking, there are immediate benefits that occur. By eliminating the carbon monoxide and chemicals in the smoke, your cardiovascular system will benefit immediately. Your chances of having a heart attack reverts back to baseline diabetic level within a couple of years. Each smoke-free day counts in making a health difference! To learn about how to become smoke-free, visit www.BecomeAnEX.org.

Dr. Richard D. Hurt is an internationally recognized expert on tobacco dependence. A native of Murray, Kentucky, he joined Mayo Clinic in 1976 and is now a Professor of Medicine at its College of Medicine. In 1988, he founded the Mayo Clinic Nicotine Dependence Center and since then its staff has treated over 33,000 patients for tobacco dependence. Send your questions directly to Dr. Hurt at AskTheExpert@becomeanex.org