The Risks and Complications of Uncontrolled Diabetes
If not controlled, diabetes can put you at risk for a host of complications that can affect nearly every organ in the body. They include:
- The heart and blood vessels
- The eyes
- The kidneys
- The nerves
- The gums and teeth
Heart Disease, Blood Vessel Disease, and Diabetes
and blood vessel disease are the biggest complications that people with uncontrolled diabetes face. Approximately 71% of adults with diabetes also have high blood pressure or take medication to reduce blood pressure and 65% have high cholesterol or take medication to treat it.
Adults with diabetes have heart disease death rates about 1.7 times higher than adults without diabetes.The risk for stroke is 1.5 times higher .
Many studies show that controlling diabetes can prevent or stop the progression of heart and blood vessel disease.
Blood vessel damage or nerve damage (see below) may also lead to foot problems that can lead to amputations. More than 60% of leg and foot amputations not related to an injury are due to diabetes.
Diabetes and the Eyes
Diabetes is the leading cause of new blindness in the U.S. in adults ages 20-74. It can cause a number of eye problems, some of which can lead to blindness if not addressed. The eye disorders include:
- Diabetic retinopathy
Studies show that regular eye exams and timely treatment of diabetes-related eye problems could prevent up to 90% of diabetes-related blindness.
Kidney Disease and Diabetes
Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure in adults in the U.S., accounting for 44% of new cases.
Drugs that lower blood pressure (even if you don't have high blood pressure) can lower risk of kidney failure by 33%.
Diabetes and Your Nerves
Over time, high blood sugar levels can harm the nerves. This can lead to loss of sensation or feeling (usually starting in the toes) or pain and burning of the feet. Approximately 60%-70% of people with diabetes have some form of nerve damage.
Diabetes-related nerve damage can also cause pain in the legs, arms, and hands, and can cause problems with digestion, going to the bathroom, or having sex.