Keeping blood sugar at a target range lowers the risk for complications.
People who have diabetes are at risk for blood vessel and nerve damage.
They can develop one or several complications.
Blood vessel damage
High blood sugar causes changes in hormones and cells that can
damage blood vessels or nerves, or both. Damaged blood vessels are more likely
to build up
plaque, increasing the risk of
coronary artery disease,
heart attack, and
stroke. When large blood vessels are affected,
complications are called macrovascular disease. Damage to small blood vessels
can lead to loss of vision, kidney disease, and nerve problems throughout the
body. When small blood vessels are affected, the condition is called
Blockages in the heart or brain increase the
risk of heart attack or stroke. When the large blood vessels in the legs are
affected (peripheral arterial disease), blood circulation to the legs and feet
is reduced, causing changes in skin color, decreased sensation, poor wound healing, and leg
Nerve damage (diabetic neuropathy) can decrease or
completely block the movement of nerve impulses or messages through organs,
legs, arms, and other parts of the body. Nerve damage can affect your internal
organs and your ability to feel pain when you are injured.
Diabetic autonomic neuropathy occurs when
nerves that control involuntary functions—such as those of the heart, digestive
tract, urinary tract, and sex organs—have been damaged.
peripheral neuropathy occurs when the nerves that detect sensation (including
pain and position) become damaged. Peripheral neuropathy usually affects longer nerves first, for example, the nerves going to the legs and feet.
In this article
This information is produced and provided by the National
Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National
Institute via the Internet web site at http://
.gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
August 01, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.
Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this