Southeastern Idaho Public Health

Diabetes, Heart Disease & Stroke


Diabetes is a serious disease that affects how the body uses glucose, the main type of sugar in the blood. Glucose comes from the foods people eat and is the major source of energy needed to fuel the body's functions. It is a metabolic disease requiring medical diagnosis, treatment, and lifestyle changes.

The three major categories of diabetes are type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes. Type 1 and type 2 diabetes can lead to serious complications from high glucose levels, including blindness, kidney disease, and nerve damage, as well as vascular disease that can lead to amputations, heart disease, and stroke. Gestational diabetes is temporary, only lasting through pregnancy, however gestational diabetes places a woman at greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes at some later time in her life.

Pre-diabetes describes an increasingly common condition in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal but are not high enough to be considered diabetes. Research supported by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has shown that most people with this condition go on to develop type 2 diabetes within 10 years unless they make changes in their diet and level of physical activity, which can help them reduce their risks and avoid the debilitating disease.

As of 2011, the CDC estimates that about 8.3% of the U.S. population or 25.8 million people have diabetes. Of those cases, 18.8 million people have been diagnosed and another 7.0 million people with diabetes have not yet been diagnosed. It is further estimated that 35% of U.S. adults aged 20 years or older have prediabetes.

Diabetes is Idaho

As reported in the Diabetes in Idaho – 2010" BRFSS report, approximately 90,000 adults had diabetes. Adults with diabetes are more likely to have high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels. They are also at greater risk of experiencing a stroke or heart attack.

Who is at Risk?

  • Older that 45 years

  • Overweight or obese

  • Lack of physical activity

  • History of gestational diabetes, or giving birth to a baby weighing more than 9 lbs at birth

  • Family history of diabetes

  • Body shape (pear vs. apple)

  • Over nutrition, especially fats and processed foods

  • Excess calories

Who is Affected?

    25.8 million Nationally or 8.3% of the population

  • 18.8 million diagnosed

  • 7.0 million undiagnosed

  • Diagnosed and undiagnosed by age and gender

  • Age 20 and older is 25.6 million or 11.3% of all people in this age group.

  • Age 65 and older is 10.9 million or 26.9% of all people in this age group.

  • Men is 13.0 million or 11.8% of all men aged 20 years or older.

  • Women is 12.6 million or 10.8% of all women ages 20 years or older.

4 Steps to Control Your Diabetes. For Life

  1. Learn About Diabetes

    • Ask your health care provider if you have Type 1, Type 2, or Gestational.

  2. Know your diabetes ABCs

    • Talk to your health care team about how to manage your A1c, Blood Pressure, and Cholesterol

    • A1c levels should be below 7 for most people.

    • Blood pressure goals for people with diabetes is 130/80

    • LDL Cholesterol for people with diabetes is below 100

    • HDL Cholesterol for men is greater than 40

    • HDL Cholesterol for women is great than 50

  3. Manage your diabetes

    • Follow your diabetes meal plan

    • Eat healthy foods

    • Keep fish and lean meat and poultry portions to about 3 ounces

    • Eat foods that have less fat and salt

    • Eat food with more fiber

    • Get 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity most days of the week

    • Stay at a healthy weight

    • Ask for help if you feel down

    • Learn to cope with stress

    • Stop smoking

    • Take medicines even when you feel good

    • Check your feet every day

    • Brush and floss every day

    • Check your blood glucose as directed by your health care provider

    • Check your blood pressure as directed by your health care provider

    • Report any changes in your eyesight

  4. Get routine care to avoid problems

    • At each visit be sure you have a:

    • Blood pressure check

    • Foot check

    • Weight check

    • Review if your self-care plan

    • At least two time each year have an A1c test

    • Once each year have a:

    • Cholesterol test

    • Triglyceride test

    • Complete foot exam

    • Dental exam – tell your dentist you have diabetes

    • Dilated eye exam

    • Flu shot

    • Check for kidney problems

What Is the Link Between Diabetes, Heart Disease, and Stroke?

Diabetes is a group of diseases marked by high levels of blood glucose resulting from defects in insulin production, insulin action, or both.2 It is the seventh leading cause of death in Idaho and can cause serious health complications including heart disease, blindness, kidney failure, and lower-extremity amputations.3

The coexistence of type 2 diabetes and hypertension is especially damaging to cardiovascular health. Type 2 diabetes and hypertension result in abnormalities in central and peripheral parameters of cardiovascular structure and function.4 Impaired glucose tolerance nearly doubles stroke risk as compared with patients with normal glucose levels and triples the risks for patients with diabetes. Age-specific incidence rates and rate ratios show that diabetes increases ischemic stroke incidence at all ages.5

At least 65% of people with diabetes die of some form of heart disease or stroke. Heart disease death rates among adults with diabetes are two to four times higher than the rates for adults without diabetes.5

The current approach to prevention of Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) includes lifestyle modification for all adults and medical therapy for those with CVD risk factors (hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, or diabetes).

Heart Disease and Stroke

Symptoms of a Heart Attack

  • Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts for more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back. The discomfort can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain.

  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. Can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach.

  • Shortness of breath. Often comes along with chest discomfort. But it also can occur before chest discomfort.

  • Other symptoms. May include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea, or lightheadedness.

Women may have some or none of the commonly recognized symptoms of a heart attack.

Instead women may experience the following:

  • Vomiting

  • Nausea

  • Pain in the right back, shoulder, arm, throat and neck

  • Profuse sweating

  • Shortness of breath

  • Fatigue

  • Indigestion or stomach pain

  • Extreme anxiety

  • Dizziness/lightheadedness

  • Even blackouts

Signs of a Stroke

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arms or legs.

  • Sudden confusion or trouble speaking or understanding others.

  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.

  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, or loss of balance or coordination.

  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause.

If you think you or someone else may be having a heart attack, don't delay, call 911. Do not drive yourself or let a friend drive you. You may need medical help on the way to the hospital. Emergency Medical Service (EMS) providers are trained to treat you on the way to the emergency room.

For more information about Diabetes, Heart Disease & Stroke or to join the Southeastern Idaho Chronic Disease Coalition, please contact Traci Lambson, MHE, Diabetes, Heart Disease & Stroke Coordinator at 208-478-6316 or

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