Diabetes and heart disease: A dangerous connection

Take it to Heart

By Melanie Lawson - The Morning Show anchor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla - Our Take it to Heart screening day is March 23rd.  This year we are screening for diabetes which is closely linked to the health of your heart.   Diabetes alone comes with many complications and it also puts your heart at risk.  We talked with a women who had open heart surgery and later learned she had diabetes. Now she's changed her lifestyle drastically to stay healthy.

Mayra Torres is doing something that she never really thought was necessary until a terrifying diagnoses.

"My primary doctor said you had diabetes too," says Torres.

This was after she diagnosed with heart disease.  Within a week of being diagnosed with a blockage Mayra  had a stent put in her carotid artery and later had to get open heart surgery.  This time the prescription was medication and a major lifestyle change.

"A lot of good food I miss it a lot, but I know right now the food that I need to eat," says Mayra.

Torres changed her diet and she started to work out even though at first she was skeptical.

"I said I can't do that I will be died because right now I have five stents and my artery I have one bypass and I said I can't do that but I'm here I'm alive," says Torres.

Torres is alive and now pretty healthy.  People with diabetes are at least twice as likely than those without to have heart disease or a stroke.  It also develops at an earlier age. There's also usually an increase in the risk factors for heart disease.  Some concerns are having central obesity.  A waist measurement of more than 40 inches for men and 35 inches for women puts you at risk. Having abnormal cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, and smoking are also dangerous.   Mayra is Puerto Rican and she says culturally Hispanics don't always make their own health a priority.

"We need to fight we need to make a change in our lifestyle, we need to take care of what we eat because this is a big problem," says Torres.

Mayra is fighting for more than just herself, she wants to be here for her children and grandkids and she now has an extended family to help.

"I see the people, I see survivors like me, I see fighters like me, and I'm very proud that I stayed here because I feel a family away from my home," says Torres.

Mayra is hoping to get off her medication one day by changing her diet and exercising.

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