The Diabetes Heart Disease Connection

Saturday, September 28, 2019 - 11:00am
Event Location: 

UA Health Sciences Innovation Building, 1670 E. Drachman Street, Tucson

What’s the Connection between Heart Disease and Diabetes?

If you missed our September 28, 2019 program, here are some highlights:

From Dr. David Marrero's presentation:

  • The connection between diabetes and heart disease starts with high blood sugar levels. Continuous high glucose in the bloodstream can damage the arteries, causing them to become stiff and hard. Fatty material builds up on the inside of these blood vessels, causing atherosclerosis.
  • People with diabetes are more likely to have risk factors that increase the chances of heart disease or stroke. Common risk factors include high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol levels, obesity and belly fat, and family history of these conditions.
  • People with diabetes are two to four times more likely to die of heart disease or have a stroke than people who don't have the condition.
  • A person who has diabetes has the same risk of heart attack as someone who does not have the disease, but already had a heart attack.

From Linda Dingle, RN, CDE:

  • 84 million Americans have prediabetes and 90 percent don't know they have it. Prediabetes means blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not yet type 2 diabetes.
  • In the last 20 years, the number of adults diagnosed with diabetes has more than doubled as the American population has aged and become more overweight.
  • Diabetes is the leading cause of new blindness among adults, kidney failure, non-traumatic lower-limb amputations. It increases the risk of heart attack and stroke by 2 to 4 fold.

Action Steps:

  • Screen to identify the 90 percent of people with prediabetes who don't know it.
  • Lose weight - Best way to do this: cut calories.
    • Eat healthy whole foods, plant-based as much as possible. Avoid processed foods. "If it doesn't look close to the way God created it, it's processed," Mrs. Dingle said.
    • If time pressures and financial constraints mean you need to stop for fast food to feed your children, don't feel guilty, but watch the calories; buy your child one burger, not several, Dr. Marrero said.
  • Increase activity
    • To improve cardiovascular health, exercise 20 to 30 minutes a day.
    • To lose weight through exercise, you have to do it 90 minutes a day. "That's why most people need to cut calories to lose weight. Few people can exercise 90 minutes a day," Dr. Marrero said.

Check out online resources from our experts.

Prediabetes: The 84 Million-Person Health Risk

What You Need to Know About Type 2 Diabetes

Are You at Risk For Type 2 Diabetes?

One-page Guide to a Heart Healthy Diet

Learn About Research at University of Arizona Sarver Heart Center 


Featured presenters include:

David Marrero, PhD

David Marrero, PhD
Director, Center for Elimination of Border Health Disparities, University of Arizona Health Sciences
Professor, Public Health, UA Mel & Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health
Professor, Medicine, UA College of Medicine - Tucson


Linda Dingle, RN, CDE

Linda (Parker) Dingle, RN, CDE
Public Health Nurse, Pima County Health Department, Tucson
Certified Diabetes Educator 
Lead Trainer, Diabetes Empowerment Education Program (University of Illinois) 
Lifestyle Coach, National Diabetes Prevention Program (Emory University)


Nancy K. Sweitzer, MD, PhD

Nancy K. Sweitzer, MD, PhD, Moderator
Director, University of Arizona Sarver Heart Center
Chief of Cardiology, Professor of Medicine, UA College of Medicine - Tucson


UA Health Sciences Innovation Building
1670 E. Drachman Street, Tucson


Please contact Jennifer Bunger at (520) 626-2901 or

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Presented by the Sarver Heart Center Women’s Heart Health Education Committee


Event Coordinator: 
Jennifer Bunger
(520) 626-2901
Event Contact Department: 
Sarver Heart Center