According to the National Institutes of Health, diabetes is on the rise, with more than one in 10 adults over the age of 20 suffering from diabetes and one in three having prediabetes. The metabolic disorder—in which the body’s ability to produce and respond to insulin becomes impaired, thus depriving cells of energy derived from glucose and flooding the bloodstream with an excess of the crystalline sugar—increases the chances of not only blindness, gangrene, and kidney disease but heart disease as well.

In fact, diabetics are two to four times more likely to develop heart disease, and nearly two-thirds will die due to complications from heart disease. Why? Simply put, the excess glucose wreaks havoc on the circulatory system. Also, diabetics are more likely to suffer from high blood pressure and have higher levels of triglycerides and low-density lipoproteins, or bad cholesterol; therefore they are more apt to suffer from clogged arteries. But heart disease among diabetics is not inevitable; it’s preventable if you stick to the following advice:

Adopt a heart-healthy lifestyle. Much more so than anyone else, diabetics must steer clear from anything that could imperil their cardiovascular system—smoking, fatty foods, physical inactivity, etc. They should exercise at least 30 minutes most days of the week. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases recommends that people with diabetes consume 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories to keep blood cholesterol at proper levels. And it is crucial for diabetics to maintain a healthy weight. A waist circumference of more than 40 inches for men and 35 inches for women is a major risk factor for heart disease.

Know your ABCs. This useful acronym serves to remind diabetics to keep tabs on their A-1-C blood glucose check, blood pressure, and total cholesterol. An A-1-C blood glucose check, which should be performed at least twice a year, averages a patient’s blood glucose level over the past two to three months. The American Diabetes Association says that a score below 7 is preferable. People with diabetes should have their blood pressure and LDL cholesterol checked once a year; optimal numbers for each are less than 130 over 80 and less than 100, respectively.

Take your meds and maybe some aspirin too. Your doctor may prescribe medication to keep your blood pressure and cholesterol in line and the chance of heart attack at bay. You may want to ask him or her if you would also benefit from adding aspirin to your medication regimen.