Font Size

Diabetes and Coronary Artery Disease

Diabetes and Coronary Artery Disease

Diabetes is a condition that affects how insulin is produced and used in the body. Insulin is a hormone that controls blood sugar; a person with diabetes either does not produce enough insulin or is unable to use it properly. Over time, this condition can accelerate hardening and narrowing (atherosclerosis) of the coronary arteries, resulting in poor blood flow to the heart muscle.

People who have diabetes develop atherosclerosis more frequently and at a younger age than those not affected by the disease. Diabetes may double the risk of death from coronary artery disease (CAD). People with diabetes are more likely to:

  • Have high blood pressure.
  • Have high triglyceride levels.
  • Have low levels of "good" cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein, or HDL).
  • Have a thicker left ventricle, which can affect how well the heart pumps.
  • Be overweight.

Young people with insulin-dependent (type 1) diabetes have an increased risk of CAD and heart attack.


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerJohn A. McPherson, MD, FACC, FSCAI - Cardiology
Last RevisedMay 1, 2010

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

To learn more visit

© 1995-2012 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.

Medical Dictionary