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How Diabetes and Atrial Fibrillation Can Lead to Stroke

Preventing or Managing Diabetes
About 17 million people in the United States have diabetes, and stroke is a leading cause of death in those with the condition. According to the American Diabetes Association, two out of three people with diabetes die from heart disease or stroke.
Diabetes is a disease in which the body does not properly produce or use insulin. Insulin is a hormone needed to convert sugar, starches, and other nutrients into energy. Another 16 million Americans have pre-diabetes, a condition in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. Genetics and lifestyle factors, such as obesity and physical inactivity, can lead to diabetes.
One in three people who have diabetes don't know they have it. See your healthcare provider if you have any diabetes symptoms, which include:
  • Frequent urination
  • Excessive thirst
  • Extreme hunger
  • Unusual weight loss
  • Increased fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Blurry vision.
If you have the disease, your healthcare provider will decide if you need diabetes medicine, such as pills or insulin shots. Your healthcare provider can also help you design a healthy eating and exercise plan.
(Click Diabetes Treatment for more information.)
Controlling Atrial Fibrillation
People who have atrial fibrillation are five times more likely to have a stroke than people who have a normal heart rhythm. About 15 percent of stroke patients have atrial fibrillation before they experience a stroke.
Treatment for atrial fibrillation depends on the severity of the atrial fibrillation. In many cases, treatment involves medicines called anticoagulants (or "blood thinners") such as warfarin (Coumadin®, Jantoven®). Warfarin can prevent clots from forming. Healthcare providers may recommend using aspirin to reduce the risk of stroke in people with atrial fibrillation; however, the most recent clinical studies have shown that warfarin is superior to aspirin in preventing stroke. Current studies show that treatment with warfarin can prevent over half of the 80,000 strokes that result from atrial fibrillation each year.
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