Insulin resistance and cardiovascular disease are two big concerns for people with diabetes.

Thankfully, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing these disease states.

Cardiovascular Disease

There are three main types of cardiovascular disease.
  • Atherosclerosis is when blood vessels stiffen and become too narrow due to plaque buildup inside of them.
  • Heart failure is when your heart becomes too weak to work properly and cannot supply enough blood to all parts of your body.
  • Arrhythmias is when your heart does not beat at a regular rate and can be caused by damage to it.

Risk factors for cardiovascular disease include diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Having any of these can increase your risk, but making sure they are controlled, with lifestyle changes and/or medications can limit the overall risk you have for developing cardiovascular disease.

A few more risk factors for cardiovascular disease include obesity, smoking, and limited physical activity. Lifestyle changes can help diminish these risk factors. A 5-10 percent weight loss can be beneficial, as well as smoking cessation. To decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease, 150 minutes of exercise each week is recommended.

Insulin Resistance

Insulin resistance is a tolerance the body develops to the hormone insulin. This leads to the body making more insulin than normal or needing medications to combat this. Being overweight and not exercising regularly are two big risk factors for developing insulin resistance. Having insulin resistance can also cause weight gain due to having elevated blood sugar since the body stores this excess sugar as fat. This weight gain can increase your risk for both insulin resistance and cardiovascular disease.


Similar to reducing your risk for cardiovascular disease, at least a 5-10 percent weight loss and 150 minutes of aerobic exercise per week have been shown to reduce the risk of developing insulin resistance. Aerobic exercise examples include biking, walking, and swimming.

Summary Diabetes can increase your risk for both cardiovascular disease and insulin resistance. Cardiovascular disease risk can be decreased with lifestyle changes, weight loss, and controlling your disease states. Insulin resistance can be managed in similar ways, including weight loss and increased exercise.