Diabetes Complication and Prevention Part 2: Just because diabetes is diagnosed it doesn’t mean that significant health issues that are complications of diabetes can’t be prevented. The center for Disease Control (CDC) offers another short list of complications due to diabetes along with a comprehensive look at prevention aids in managing your long-term health.
- Uncontrolled diabetes often leads to biochemical imbalances that can cause acute life threatening events, such as diabetic ketoacidosis and hyperosmolar (nonketotic) coma.
- People with diabetes are more susceptible to many other illnesses. Once they acquire these illnesses, they often have worse prognoses. For example, they are more likely to die with pneumonia or influenza than people who do not have diabetes.
- Persons with diabetes aged 60 years or older are 2–3 times more likely to report an inability to walk one-quarter of a mile, climb stairs, do housework, or use a mobility aid compared with persons without diabetes in the same age group.
Preventing diabetes complications
Diabetes can affect many parts of the body and can lead to serious complications such as blindness, kidney damage, and lower-limb amputations. Working together, people with diabetes, their support network, and their health care providers can reduce the occurrence of these and other diabetes complications by controlling the levels of blood glucose, blood pressure, and blood lipids, and by receiving other preventive care practices in a timely manner.
- Studies in the United States and abroad have found that improved glycemic control benefits people with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes. In general, every percentage point drop in A1c blood test results (e.g., from 8.0% to 7.0%) can reduce the risk of microvascular complications (eye, kidney, and nerve diseases) by 40%.
- In patients with type 1 diabetes, intensive insulin therapy has long-term beneficial effects on the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Blood pressure control
- Blood pressure control reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease (heart disease or stroke) among persons with diabetes by 33% to 50%, and the risk of microvascular complications (eye, kidney, and nerve diseases) by approximately 33%.
- In general, for every 10 mm Hg reduction in systolic blood pressure, the risk for any complication related to diabetes is reduced by 12%.
Control of blood lipids
- Improved control of LDL cholesterol can reduce cardiovascular complications by 20% to 50%.
Preventive care practices for eyes, feet, and kidneys
- Detecting and treating diabetic eye disease with laser therapy can reduce the development of severe vision loss by an estimated 50% to 60%.
- Comprehensive foot care programs can reduce amputation rates by 45% to 85%.
- Detecting and treating early diabetic kidney disease by lowering blood pressure can reduce the decline in kidney function by 30% to 70%.
- Treatment with angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) are more effective in reducing the decline in kidney function than other blood pressure lowering drugs.
- In addition to lowering blood pressure, ARBs reduce proteinuria, a risk factor for developing kidney disease, by 35%, similar to the reduction achieved by ACE inhibitors.
By spending time with your primary care physician you may be able to develop ways to effectively monitor and adapt your personal lifestyle in an effort to avoid many of the long-term issues that can prove problematic to diabetics. The end result is a healthier lifestyle with an eye toward premier self-management.