Managing diabetes

Having diabetes increases your risk of heart attack or stroke. Learn more about the link between diabetes and your heart.

Diabetes (Mate Huka) happens when the body has trouble making or using a hormone called insulin. 

Insulin transports glucose (sugar) from your blood into your cells where it is used to make energy. Without insulin, too much sugar remains in the blood. This causes more inflammation in your arteries and speeds up the process of atherosclerosis, where your arteries get stiffer and narrower, increasing your risk of heart attack or stroke.

People with diabetes are two - four times more likely to have a heart attack or stroke, than people who don’t have diabetes.

What can I do to manage my diabetes?

A good place to start is by asking yourself, on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being not important and 10 being very important), how important is it to you to manage your diabetes, and lower your risk of heart attack and stroke.

If it is important to you to manage your diabetes and your risk, you may like to:  

  • Find out about ways you can change what you eat to control your blood sugar levels
  • Approach a dietitian about ways you can change what you eat to control your blood sugar levels
  • Make a plan for how to get more physical activity into your daily routine
  • Learn more about managing your diabetes in a group environment where you can get support from others to help you manage your diabetes
  • Ask some friends or family/whānau to be a support network for you, and talk with them about ways they can encourage you to manage your diabetes.

Remember help is available from your doctor, nurse or other health professionals should you need it. For information, visit

What can I do to lower my risk of heart attack and stroke?

Making healthy changes to your lifestyle will help you lower your risk of heart attack or stroke. 

The thought of making changes may seem overwhelming, but the good news is that even a small change can have a positive impact. You can choose to work on as many or as few risk factors as you would like. The more you change, the better the result. 

*Please talk to your doctor before exploring this option

Talking to your doctor about diabetes and your heart

Take a look at some of the questions other people have had about managing diabetes, and see if any may be helpful for you to ask your health professional: 

  • What options do I have for managing my diabetes?
  • What’s involved in becoming smokefree/ making healthier food choices/ taking more exercise/ reaching a healthy weight/ managing my stress?
  • Which of these options to manage my diabetes will most benefit me?
  • What’s involved with taking medications for diabetes?
  • Where can I get support?
  • How will my doctor/ nurse/ other health professional support my health and my family?

Are there any other questions you have that you would like to ask?  

You may like to read through and take a copy of our diabetes information sheet to discuss with your doctor.

View all diabetes resources