NOT many Filipinos understand that there is a huge connection between diabetes and cardiovascular diseases (CVD). There are risks and chances that diabetes, when left unaddressed, may progress to CVD, especially if the disease runs in the family.

Recently, the “For Your Sweetheart” campaign was launched to raise awareness to patients and their families of the connection between diabetes (sweet) and Cardiovascular disease (heart). The nationwide campaign aims to encourage patients to be more open and to actually talk to their doctors especially when diabetes runs in the family. Aside from that, the campaign also puts emphasis on the importance of the family members in the treatment journey of patients.

According to the Department of Health, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases are among the leading causes of death in the Philippines together with pneumonia, cancer, all forms of tuberculosis, other respiratory diseases, and accidents.

SunStar Davao had a recent talk with Dr. Walid Amil, founding president of the Philippine Heart Association-Zamboanga Peninsula Chapter.

“We are encountering an increase in the number of diabetes cases now. An individual have very high chances of having diabetes if even one of their parents got diabetes before 40 years old,” explained Dr. Amil.

He added that adults, though not yet showing symptoms but have parents diagnosed with diabetes, must have their sugar level monitored on a regular basis.

The For Your Sweetheart campaign aims to detect diabetes at a very young age to blur the chances of it progressing to CVD.

“We’re in the era of preventive cardiology. Early pa sana before pa magka-diagnosis but the possibility is there because of their history and lifestyle,” he said.

If the patient is already diagnosed with diabetes, he/she has 2 to 4 times chances of getting CVD.

When visiting their website, there is a “Take the Assessment Test'' tab. It is an online Framingham score test estimating the risk for coronary heart disease of a person not yet diagnosed with the disease.

According to Dr. Amil, the online test takes into consideration the test taker’s (1) age; (2) blood pressure; (3) cholesterol level; (4) diabetes history; and (5) whether or not they are smoking.

The result of the online test is not yet a final diagnosis but may be shown to the doctor when consulting.

Dr. Amil explains that Filipinos, especially those with family history of diabetes, must be mindful of their sugar intake. He went on to clarify that even those without family history may still develop diabetes depending on diet and lifestyle.

Food to be avoided to maintain sugar level

Aside from the usual sweets and desserts, Dr. Amil reminds Filipinos that there are actually innocent-looking culprits in our food choices.

1. White rice, bread

They may not seem too sweet as the other desserts that we know but these foods high in carbohydrates are converted into sugar.

2. Sweet beverages

Typical Filipinos are very much fond of softdrinks, iced tea, and milktea. Dr. Amil suggests taking these in moderation. It is always better to just drink plain water.

3. Fastfood

Fastfoods not only contain ingredients that cause diabetes but also CVD. It is advisable to cook your own food more frequently.

“Aside from the diet, we are also looking at the patient’s vices, whether or not they live a sedentary lifestyle, and also their cholesterol level,” said Dr. Amil.

“Diabetes involves lifetime treatment. You have to follow lifestyle changes advised by your doctor to maintain the sugar level that you’re aiming for. Always check your cholesterol level,” he said.