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Type 1 Diabetes: Living With Complications - What Increases Your Risk

These factors can contribute to your developing complications from type 1 diabetes.

  • Having one complication. If you have one complication from diabetes, you have a higher chance of getting other complications.
  • Ongoing high blood sugar over time. If your blood sugar levels are high most of the time, you have a higher chance of getting complications.
  • Length of time you have the disease. The longer you have diabetes, even if you control your blood sugar, the more likely you are to develop complications.
    • Diabetic retinopathy. About 60% of people with type 1 diabetes get diabetic retinopathy after 10 years. Almost all have it to some degree after 20 years.2 About 25% get the advanced stage (proliferative retinopathy) after 15 years.2
    • Diabetic nephropathy. Diabetic nephropathy eventually occurs in 20% to 30% of all people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.3 Without treatment to slow kidney disease, most people with type 1 diabetes will move from the early stage to the advanced stage of nephropathy in 10 to 15 years.3 Children who get nephropathy usually show the first signs of the condition after puberty.
    • Heart and large blood vessel disease. About 75% of adults with diabetes have high blood pressure. People with diabetes are 2 to 4 times more likely to die from heart disease or to have a stroke.4
    • Diabetic neuropathy. Most people with diabetes develop some diabetic neuropathy over the years.
  • Other risk factors. Other factors that can raise your chance of getting complications include:
    • Smoking.
    • High blood pressure.
    • High cholesterol.
    • Family history of heart disease.
    • Peripheral arterial disease.
    • Psychiatric disorders (such as depression).
    • Family history of diabetic complications.
    • Not having health insurance for supplies and other medical expenses related to diabetes.

More information


WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 02, 2010
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

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