Individuals with diabetes are two to six times more likely to have a heart attack than those without it—in fact, two out of three people with diabetes die of heart-related complications. They are also more prone to having a heart attack earlier in life, and their heart attacks are usually more severe. In celebration of National Heart Month, let’s take a look at how diabetes affects your heart and how a healthy diet, exercise, and supplement plan can keep your cardiovascular system running strong.

How Diabetes Affects The Heart

Despite its prevalence, many aspects of diabetes are not yet well understood. Scientists theorize that a number of potential culprits are responsible for making diabetes so rough on the heart.

First of all, diabetes causes high blood glucose levels. Glucose and proteins are synthesized in the body to create advanced glycosylation endproducts, or AGEs. Over time, high concentrations of AGEs allow fatty materials to accumulate along blood vessel walls, and you can end up with those dreaded two words: clogged arteries. Your heart has to work harder to pump blood through a narrowed blood vessel—think of it like drinking a milkshake through a coffee straw.

Insulin is another key player. Most people who have type 2 diabetes are unable to process their own insulin production, and evidence suggests that high levels of insulin in the blood can further contribute to blood vessel buildup. This complication is known scientifically as atherosclerosis.

Taking Preventative Steps

Even if you do not have diabetes or prediabetes, taking care to protect your heart against the number one killer in America—heart disease—may very well save your life. Preventing heart disease is possible through a few key lifestyle changes.

The first and most important strategy is to quit smoking. Tobacco use can cause crucial damage to your blood vessels and reduce oxygen levels in the blood, forcing your heart to work harder than it should. Fortunately, the body is resilient: within a year of quitting tobacco, your risk of heart disease plummets. The earlier you quit, the less time you will spend playing Russian roulette with your heart.

Getting up off the couch can also be the pivotal point between life and a heart attack. Squeezing 30 minutes of moderate exercise into your day will keep your heart in shape—and it doesn’t have to be all at once. Try a brisk walk each morning and another after dinner, or some midday squats followed by an evening yoga session. The advantages of daily exercise are endless, and your heart is the number one beneficiary.

Eating heart-healthy foods is just as important as exercise. It’s easier than you might think: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products such as yogurt are simple to incorporate into meals. Avoid foods that are high in cholesterol, sodium, and unhealthy (trans and saturated) fats. The Mayo Clinic reports that eating five to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables daily can help prevent heart disease and may protect against cancer.

Maintaining A Healthy Heart With Royal Velvet

Deer antler velvet is a heart-loving superfood with cardiovascular benefits for both diabetics and those without diabetes. The Healthy Protocol, LLC’s Royal Velvet contains the following heart-healthy properties, among others:

  • Selenium, a mineral with antioxidant properties

  • Chondroitin sulfate A, a nutrient proven to remove plaque from blood vessel walls

  • Insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) and Transforming Growth Factor Beta (TGF-Beta), which regulate cell growth

  • Hyaluronic acid to lubricate heart valves

  • Linolenic acid, a fatty acid that helps with blood flow and decreases “clumping.”

If you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, Royal Velvet can help protect the most susceptible organ in your body—two out of every three people with diabetes die of heart disease or stroke. Prevent yourself from becoming a statistic.