Stroke and Diabetes – Is There a Connection?

There is a strong connection between diabetes and stroke – every two minutes, an American adult with diabetes is hospitalized for a stroke. According to the American Stroke Association, adults who have diabetes have twice the risk of stroke as those who do not have diabetes, and people with diabetes tend to have strokes earlier in life than people without diabetes.

People with diabetes who have strokes are less likely to fully recover and have an increased risk of death from the stroke.

Certain ethnic groups in the U.S. have a greater occurrence of diabetes: American Indians, Alaska Natives, African Americans, and Hispanics/Latinos. These populations also have higher rates of stroke.

Diabetes is a very dangerous condition that must be controlled. According to the American Heart Association, 16% of adults over age 65 with diabetes die of stroke and 68% die of some form of heart disease.

About diabetes

Diabetes is a condition in which the body is inefficient in managing blood glucose levels – sugar in the bloodstream. Many foods are turned into glucose by the body and used as energy in the cells. The hormone insulin, produced by the pancreas, is critical in getting the glucose into the cells. With diabetes, the pancreas does not make enough insulin to help the body convert all the glucose you consume into energy.

Many people with diabetes have comorbidities that are also stroke risk factors: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, and circulation problems. Fluctuating blood glucose levels can also damage the cardiovascular system.

How diabetes can lead to stroke

Over time, excess sugar in the blood can lead to atherosclerosis – the buildup of clots or fat deposits in blood vessels. This can cause a narrowing of the passage in the blood vessels, thus increasing the risk of bursting blood vessels or developing a clot that completely blocks the flow of blood. Either event can cause a loss of blood to the brain, which is called a stroke. A stroke caused by blockage is called an ischemic stroke; one caused by a burst or leaking blood vessel in or around the brain or neck is called a hemorrhagic stroke. 

Loss of blood flow, and thus a loss of oxygen, causes brain cells to quickly begin to die. Time is critical after a stroke, because the more quickly blood flow can be restored to the brain, the less long-term damage may be done.

Controlling diabetes and reducing the risk of stroke

Lifestyle changes can do a great deal to alleviate diabetes and the many risk factors of stroke that often accompany diabetes. Avoiding sugar and simple carbohydrates that convert quickly into sugar can significantly decrease your blood sugar load and help the pancreas stay on top of the amount of glucose you’re putting into your body.

Regular exercise and healthy sleep habits are important for overall health. If you smoke, stop smoking. Drink alcohol in moderation, if at all. These two changes will have a powerful effect on your blood pressure, helping to bring it into a healthier balance. If you are overweight, it’s important to lose weight to help control most of the health conditions mentioned.

Your doctor may prescribe medications that can help keep your blood sugar levels under control, alleviating some of the symptoms of diabetes and lessening your risk of stroke. You may also want to talk to your doctor about adding Neuralert’s stroke detection monitor to your stroke risk reduction program. At Neuralert, we are dedicated to reducing the devastating damage that can be caused by stroke. Our stroke detection monitor looks like a smartwatch and is connected to state-of-the-art AI programming that has been proven to pick up signs of most strokes within minutes, sending a message to your healthcare provider that immediate evaluation and care are needed.

By adjusting your lifestyle, taking appropriate medications, and wearing our stroke monitor wristbands, you will dramatically decrease your risk of stroke and speed medical care your way if you do have a stroke, thus decreasing the risk of long-term damage. Talk to your doctor about Neuralert.