Preventing Diabetes Complications
There are many things you can do to prevent the development and progression of diabetes complications. After reading about the following diabetes complications, talk to your doctor about your health risk for these problems and some ways they can be prevented.
Heart Disease and Diabetes
At every visit, your health care provider will check your blood pressure. Your blood cholesterol level and triglycerides should be checked at your first visit and then at least annually -- and more often until target levels are achieved. An EKG should also be obtained as part of a complete medical record. Tell your doctor any personal risk factors you have for heart disease and work out a prevention plan that includes weight loss, regular exercise, stress management, as well as keeping your blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides at normal levels.
For more detail, see WebMD's article Heart Disease and Diabetes.
Stroke and Diabetes
Knowing the warning signs and risks of stroke can help prevent this serious problem from happening to you. If you have any signs and symptoms of stroke -- including sudden weakness on one side of the face or body; numbness in the face, arm, leg; difficulty speaking; trouble seeing with both eyes; or dizziness -- see a doctor immediately. If you have high blood pressure, treating it effectively reduces both your risk of having and dying from a stroke. If you smoke -- quit; smoking cessation will also decrease the risk of stroke. Abnormally high cholesterol levels also increase your risk of stroke. Your diet, activity level, and medications can reduce your cholesterol level and reduce your risk of stroke.
For more detail, see WebMD's article Stroke and Diabetes.
Kidney Disease (Nephropathy) and Diabetes
After an initial negative screening test, urine testing should be performed yearly to look for kidney damage in those with diabetes. When you are first diagnosed with diabetes, a creatinine blood test (kidney function test) should also be done. Your health care provider will also check your blood pressure regularly since control of high blood pressure is essential in preventing and slowing kidney disease. Blood pressure should be less than 130/80. Persistent leg or feet swelling may be a symptom of kidney disease and should be reported to your health care provider.
For more detail, see WebMD's article Diabetic Nephropathy.
Numbness, burning, or pain in your feet or hands should be reported to your health care provider at your regular visits as they can be signs of diabetic neuropathy -- nerve damage in people with diabetes. You should check your feet daily for signs of infection such as redness or sores. If you notice any of these symptoms before your scheduled visit, notify your health care provider immediately. During your routine visits talk to your doctor about preventing and treating calluses, cracks, or skin breakdown.
For more detail, see WebMD's article Diabetic Neuropathy.