More than 37 million people in the United States (about 11.3% of the population) have diabetes, which is a chronic illness that can lead to some very serious, and sometimes life-threatening, health consequences.
If you have diabetes, it’s important to educate yourself about these risks, so you can do all you can to better manage the disease to avoid serious complications.
To help, the team here at Louisiana Heart and Vascular, led by interventional cardiologist Dr. Farhad Aduli, pulled together four of the more serious complications that are associated with diabetes.
A quick look at diabetes
The reason why diabetic complications are so common, not to mention so serious, is that the condition affects your entire cardiovascular system.
Under normal circumstances, your pancreas produces insulin, which is a hormone that helps move sugar from your blood to your cells. Your cells then use this sugar as energy. With diabetes, however, your body develops a resistance to insulin, or your body doesn’t produce enough insulin. Consequently, too much sugar stays in your blood, which causes elevated blood sugar levels.
Unregulated levels of blood sugar can damage your blood vessels and nerves, which can cause serious health issues.
The dangers of diabetes
The human body has about 60,000 miles of blood vessels, which explains why the complications of diabetes can strike so many areas of your health. While we don’t have the space to outline all of the potential health risks of diabetes, we want to highlight four of the more common ones, including the following:
1. Heart disease
People with diabetes are twice as likely to develop heart disease or stroke than people who don’t have diabetes. By heart disease, we’re referring to a number of issues that range from heart failure to heart attack. Not only does the damage to your blood vessels contribute to your higher risk for heart issues, but people with diabetes often have other risk factors, including high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
2. Vision loss
Diabetes is now the leading cause of new cases of blindness in the United States. This is in large part due to diabetic retinopathy, which affects more than 4 million people. The blood vessels that service your retina are very delicate, and elevated blood sugar levels can easily damage them.
3. Peripheral neuropathy
The blood vessels that feed the peripheral nerves in your body can also become damaged by unregulated blood sugar levels, leading to damage. Called peripheral neuropathy, the problem often affects the extremities, such as your feet and hands. And peripheral neuropathy is very common, affecting up to half of people with diabetes.
4. Chronic kidney disease (CKD)
When the blood vessels in your kidneys become weakened and damaged by high glucose levels, you can develop CKD, which affects about 1 in 3 adults with diabetes.
The statistics we present above are certainly eye-opening, but we want to underscore that diabetes complications aren’t inevitable. By better managing your diabetes and eliminating certain risk factors, such as smoking and/or being overweight, you can greatly reduce your chances of developing these serious health consequences.
The best way to get started is to get the right diabetes health team in your corner, such as the one found at our practice. To get started, book an appointment online or over the phone with Louisiana Heart and Vascular today. We’re located in Covington and Franklinton, Louisiana, and we also serve patients from Mandeville, Hammond, and Slidell.