A recent survey shows many Quebecers with type 2 diabetes don’t know it increases their risk of cardiovascular disease.

In his late forties – thinking his health was in check - Ken Harding was living an active lifestyle. Except when he exercised, he started feeling dizzy, and his energy levels were dwindling.

“I thought maybe I had a heart problem or something,” he said.

Harding decided to get medical advice, and found, much to his surprise, that he has type 2 diabetes.

But he’s not alone, however.

A recent survey commissioned by a group of pharmaceutical companies revealed that 63 per cent of Quebecers with type 2 diabetes are unaware of additional cardiac risks – the disease can increase the risk of heart attack, heart failure, and stroke.

“The worse thing from that survey is only 56 per cent says that heart disease is a problem in patients with diabetes,” explained Dr. Paul Poirier from Universite de Laval.

Poirier says type 2 diabetes can be genetic, but obesity is a risk factor.

Diet and exercise, however, are two key ways to keep it under control.

“Around 15 to 20 per cent of obese [people] are diabetics – but 80 to 85 per cent of patients with diabetes are obese,” he added. “People get the type 2 diabetes diagnosis when they see their general practitioner, [and discover] they’ve been diabetic for at least 3-5 years.”

Diabetes, Poirier explains, can have other serious impacts like blindness and loss of limbs.

Harding’s diagnosis hasn’t come without its lifestyle changes. He’s cut sugar from his diet, and takes medication.

“It’s taking days off of my life right now,” he said. “I’m thinking about my children, my grandchildren. [Thinking] maybe someday, that I’m not going to be able to see them as long as I thought because of this disease.”

He hasn’t had any complications, and he’s hoping with good diet and exercise, that can continue.