Diabetic Complications: Early Detection Is Key
There are many different complications of diabetes such as:
1. Cardiovascular Disease: The leading cause of death among diabetics is heart disease. This is why one of the main treatment goals for diabetic patients is to lower blood pressure levels. Blood pressure goals for diabetics are lower than for the general population. Blood pressure should be maintained at 130/80 for diabetic patients. In addition, cholesterol should be checked routinely to reduce the risk of formation of plaques in the arteries. Patients with high cholesterol should be started on lifestyle changes and statin therapy with a goal to reduce LDL to below 100 mg/dl.
2. Chronic Kidney Disease: Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney transplant and dialysis. Over time, high blood sugar levels stress the kidney and causes damage that is not reversible. Patient are often put on medications to help protect the kidneys. Kidney function should be checked yearly with both blood and urine testing.
3. Eye Disease: It should not be surprising that diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of adult blindness. Every patient with diabetes should be checked yearly with a complete eye exam to check for changes in the blood vessels of the eyes. These exams should start at diagnosis in type 2 diabetics and at age 10 in type 1 diabetics.
4. Nerve Damage: Elevated glucose also affects the nerves throughout the body including the nerves that are needed for regulatory processes and sensation. Diabetic peripheral neuropathy is extremely common and is characterized by numbness and loss of sensation in the hands and feet.
5. Foot Problems: Foot complications are a large cause of morbidity among diabetic patients. People with diabetes are at high risk for infections and amputations of the feet because of poor circulation and poor sensation.
There are many different complications of diabetes and preventing them is not easy. Strict glucose control is necessary to reduce the risk of progression of diabetic complications. It is also important that patients have routine screening tests done to detect damage to the organ systems early. Through these methods it is possible to reduce complications of diabetes and enhance the lives of diabetic patients.