David S. Schade, MD
David S. Schade, MD, is chief of UNM’s Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism.

A University of New Mexico diabetes specialist will kick off National Diabetes Month Nov. 3 by focusing on the deadly link between diabetes and heart disease.

David S. Schade, MD, chief of UNM’s Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, will discuss ways to prevent this deadly combination during a free public lecture from 6:30-7:45 p.m. in the Albuquerque Academy Simms Auditorium, 6400 Wyoming Blvd. NE. He will be joined by cardiologist Barry Ramo, MD, medical editor at KOAT-TV.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S., according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The National Institutes of Health stresses that if you have diabetes, you are at least twice as likely as other people to have heart disease or a stroke. Those with diabetes also tend to develop heart disease or have strokes at an earlier age than others.

“Heart disease kills more people than all cancers combined,” Schade says. “And if you have diabetes, the biggest danger in your life is heart disease.”

More than 600,000 people die of heart disease every year – that’s one in every four deaths, according to the CDC. Each minute, someone in the U.S. dies from a heart disease-related event and someone has a heart attack every 43 seconds. Heart disease is the number two killer in New Mexico, responsible for 3,224 deaths in the state in 2010.

“The good news is that this silent killer heart disease is detectable and preventable,” Schade adds. “There are new, simple, noninvasive tests that can check for heart disease, like an x-ray that provides a cardiac calcium score. No dye, no needles, no tubes. And if heart disease is discovered, it can be reversible. I’m going to tell the audience how to do that with the latest information on lifestyle and medications.”

Diabetes itself is a risk factor for heart disease, and many people with diabetes have other conditions or risk factors that increase their chance of developing heart disease and stroke. Risk factors include:

  • Family history of heart disease.
  • Central obesity, or carrying extra weight around the waist.
  • Abnormal blood fat (cholesterol) levels.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Smoking, which doubles your risk of getting heart disease.

Schade advises those with diabetes in their family to monitor and keep their blood glucose, blood pressure and blood cholesterol close to the recommended levels.

“We do this by choosing foods wisely, being physically active and taking our medications if needed,” he says. “We just have to make that personal decision and commitment to a healthier lifestyle. Then we have to find a physician who supports our commitment and prescribes the right medication for each situation.”

Register here for the Nov. 3 community event, “Diabetes and Heart Disease: A Preventable, Deadly Combination." For more information, contact Lori Peterkin at 505-272-8085 or lpeterkin@salud.unm.edu.