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Diabetes Complications

Over time, elevated sugar level in the blood will lead to the following complications, heart attack (atherosclerosis), eye problem (retinopathy), neurological problems (neuropathy), high blood pressure, renal problems (kidney failure) and infections.

Heart Attack (atherosclerosis)

A continuously elevated sugar level in the blood will damage the blood vessels through the build up of atherosclerotic plaque causing the narrowing of the arteries that lead to the heart.

Diabetics are highly prone to atherosclerosis. Heart attack is the cause of dead in about 46 percent of the population but among diabetes it rises to 75 percent.

Diabetic also has a predisposition towards abnormally high levels of blood cholesterol – LDL bad cholesterol and triglycerides. Diabetics should do everything possible to prevent blood vessels from damages.

Eye Problem (diabetic retinopathy)

The small vessels leading to the retina can become damaged leading to loss of vision or blindness (diabetic retinopathy). The retina is the lining at the back of the eye where light is received and sent to the brain. Ninety percent of diabetics will show damage to their retina within 20 years.

There are two types of diabetic retinopathy. The first is called background retinopathy. In this type of retinopathy the blood vessels in this part of the eye narrows and cuts down on the oxygen supply to the eyes. The retina weakens and small hemorrhages can occur. Vision is affected.

The control of sugar levels is vital to delay the onset of background retinopathy. Note that high blood pressure can also cause this kind of retinopathy. If you have both high blood pressure and diabetes you should work doubly hard on reducing it.

About 20% progress to the second form of retinopathy called proliferative retinopathy which results in the scarring of the retina. Probably due to the reduction of oxygen supply to the eye, capillaries along the inner surface of the retina proliferate, to try and bring in more oxygen. These capillaries are however very fragile and can break easily. Bleeding can occur in various parts of the eye causing blurred vision and scarring. This is a much more serious problem than background retinopathy and can cause a detached retina.

Neurological Problems (neuropathy)

Diabetes can also affect nerve functions. Symptoms include tingling, pins and needles, burning, itching, numbness and in more serious cases, severe pain. These pains are usually not constant and they most often affect the legs and feet.

Narrowing of the arteries in the legs and feet can leg to slow healing of wounds and in severe cases to gangrene. It can also lead to impotence in men due to the poor supply of blood to the penis.

High Blood Pressure

For some reason high blood pressure and diabetes seem to go together. For a better quality of life, you should work to bring down both sugar and pressure level.

Renal problems (kidney damage)

The longer you have diabetes, the higher the chances of developing kidney problems. About 35% of diabetics develop kidney problems usually around 15 to 20 years after diagnosis. Kidney failure accounts for 48% of all death in diabetes who acquire the disease before 20 years of age.

While all insulin-dependent diabetes have some kidney damage, most do not cause symptoms or problems.

If you are diabetic and your test shows normal kidneys, you should protect them with careful control of your blood sugar. You should also control your protein intake to make life easier for the kidneys.


Diabetics should keep their immune system in optimal condition. For some reasons diabetics are more prone to infections than non-diabetics.

In addition to the above abnormal high sugar level can also cause a skin disease called Diabetic Dermopathy. The shins develop brown scars due to abnormal changes in the small blood vessels of the skin. Uncontrolled diabetes also increases the risk of gum diseases and the development of more cavities. Proper and regular care is recommended for those with high blood sugar.

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