Those with diabetes are at risk for these five diseases:
Those with diabetes are twice as likely to have heart disease than those who do not. In addition, they also tend to develop heart disease at a younger age. Why? Because over time, high glucose levels increase fatty deposits inside blood vessels. This decreases blood flow, increasing the risk of clogging arteries and hardening blood vessels. Of course, having a family history of heart disease further increases the risk.
Narrowed blood vessels also place diabetics at higher risk of strokes. A stroke occurs when the flow of oxygen is cut from the brain, usually caused by a collapsed blood vessel. It can have a devastating effect, causing paralysis or the inability to speak. The good news is that 80 percent of strokes can be prevented, and the extent of their horrible aftermath can be prevented by getting help quickly. The National Stroke Association has a wealth of information about stroke signs and symptoms.
PERIPHERAL VASCULAR DISEASE (PVD)
Narrowing blood vessels can also cause PVD. In this condition, narrowed blood vessels block blood circulation in the legs. Symptoms include leg cramps, numbness, fatigue and pain in the legs or buttocks. If you are diabetic, it’s a good idea to include this in your regular screening. Talk to your doctor if you have any of the symptoms.
Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body is unable to use insulin properly. When this happens, blood sugar (glucose) builds up in the system, putting a strain on the kidneys and injuring the small, delicate blood vessels within them. As a result, the kidneys are not able to clean blood properly, retaining water and salt, which can lead to weight gain and swollen ankles. Ten to 40 percent of those with type 2 diabetes will eventually develop kidney failure.
FOOT AND EYE COMPLICATIONS
Diabetic nerve damage hinders the ability to feel hot and cold, as well as pain. Those with diabetes may not realize that they have a foot injury, placing them at risk of developing an infection. If diabetes is not well-managed, these complications may eventually lead to amputation. Glaucoma –a disease caused by pressure build-up in the eye—is another serious risk. If untreated, glaucoma can lead to blindness. Those with diabetes are 40 percent more likely to have glaucoma, and the risk increases with age.
Diabetes is a devastating diagnosis. It is frightening and often, overwhelming. Thankfully, there are many internal medicine physicians who specialize in helping patients manage diabetes successfully. By taking precautions and following doctor’s orders, those with diabetes can dramatically reduce their risk of these diseases.