Complications of Diabetes
After the initial shock of discovering that you have diabetes, you may settle into a less careful routine of watching your diet, exercising, taking prescribed medications, and seeing your doctor for regular checkups. Although you may feel fine, do not be fooled.
Whenever your blood glucose levels go above normal, many organs in your body are affected. Each episode of hyperglycemia may cause minor damage, which over time can lead to major long-term complications, including macrovascular disease (abnormalities of large arteries supplying blood to the heart, brain, and legs), microvascular disease (abnormalities of small blood vessels in the kidneys and eyes), neuropathy (nerve damage), and changes in the skin, gums, teeth, and feet.
These complications of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes typically appear only after someone has had diabetes for years or even decades. Fortunately, their development is not inevitable. Strong evidence suggests that good control of blood glucose and other risk factors, such as high blood pressure and high LDL cholesterol, can prevent or delay the onset of long-term complications and may reduce the severity of complications that do occur. However, improved glucose control may not reverse complications once they appear.
In May 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) released a statement indicating that the death rate from heart disease and stroke in people with diabetes in the United States dropped by 40 percent from 1997 to 2006. According to the statement, improvements in treatment for cardiovascular disease, better diabetes management (i.e., glucose control), and an increase in healthy lifestyle changes helped contribute to the decline.
In other recent studies, the CDC found that rates of kidney failure and amputations in people with diabetes are also declining. In spite of this, however, obesity rates in people with diabetes continued to increase over this time period.