The Connection Between T1D and Heart Health

February is Heart Month and is a perfect time to talk about the connection between cardiovascular disease (CVD) and T1D.

As a general rule, everyone, T1D or not, should abide by The American Heart Association’s Simple Seven for optimal heart health:

Life’s Simple 7

  1. Be active
  2. Keep a healthy weight
  3. Learn about cholesterol
  4. Don’t smoke or use smokeless tobacco
  5. Eat a heart-healthy diet
  6. Keep blood pressure healthy
  7. Learn about blood sugar and diabetes (In the case of T1D, manage blood glucose and achieve target glucose levels to the best of your abilities)

It’s long been known that people living with type 1 diabetes are at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease but the underlying reasons have not been well understood.   While treatments for T1D and better management of complications have advanced at incredible rates over the last 30 years, the staggering number of people with type 1 diabetes at risk of heart disease has not changed as dramatically.

New research suggests the reason people living with T1D are more susceptible to heart disease may have something to do with the bodies heightened immune response.   Unlike people living with type 2 diabetes, people with T1D who are exposed to high blood sugar levels over time have an immune system response to heart proteins linked to development of heart disease down the road.  Read more about this research HERE.

JDRF is focused on better treatment and prevention of T1D complications. We know that everything from early detection of T1D to better, smarter, more advanced treatment therapies have positive effects on long term complications. Research shows that intensive insulin therapy and monitoring can significantly reduce the risk of long term complications from T1D.   Only one third of T1D patients, however, are currently achieving target blood glucose levels. The JDRF Advocacy and Mission teams are working hard to get the most up to date management tools into the hands of people living with T1D sooner. The Complication Program’s goal is to rapidly progress complication research by working to:

Discover biomarkers to enable clinical trials targeting the early stages of disease

Identify genes so people with the greatest risk can take steps to intervene early


Include people with T1D in type 2 diabetes clinical trials so that promising treatments extend to T1D


While a Cure for T1D is the ultimate goal of JDRF, we understand the immense need to lessen the burden of T1D and it’s complications and improve lives of those living with T1D until a cure is found.  To date, more than $115 million has been invested by JDRF in complications research. Because of our focused work, one day complications will be reversed and prevented for people living with T1D.