The long term complications
People with diabetes should expect to remain fit and
health and free of the long term complications of diabetes. These complications,
when advanced, can cause serious health problems and a worsening of the
quality of life. They are best avoided by taking effective preventative
What are the long term complications?
can complicate life in many ways but what is meant by this is the long
term changes in the circulation that lead to damage to parts of the body.
The parts affected include the eyes, kidneys, feet, heart and other circulation
problems that can cause stroke or poor blood supply to the legs.
What causes these complications?
Many factors affect the circulation but most especially poor blood sugar
control, a high blood pressure, a high level of cholesterol or fat
in your blood stream and smoking. Being inactive and overweight makes
matters worse. The older you are and the longer you have had diabetes
increases the risk as well.
All of these factors come together to damage the lining of the blood
vessels which thicken so hat the blood can not properly flow through.
Some of these blood vessels are very small and
are called “micro
vascular”. Damage here particularly affects the eyes, kidneys and
Larger blood vessels, “macro vascular” vessels, known as
the arteries, can also become blocked as the damaged lining thickens
up with calcium. You may hear of people saying, “the arteries are
furred up”. In such arteries, the blood flow is sluggish or blood
clots may form. This leads to various heart problems such as angina,
heart attack or heart failure. It can cause stroke. Poor circulation
to the legs and feet can cause difficulty in walking, foot ulcers and
is the biggest factor leading to foot or leg amputation.
How can these complications be avoided?
know what can reduce the risk of these complications. Don’t
smoke. Keep good control of you diabetes – the long term HbA1c
test should be less than 7%. Get your blood pressure effectively treated
if high – the top number should be less than 140. You may need
aspirin or cholesterol treatment. Stick to a healthy diet, try and keep
active and don’t let you weight get out of hand.
Have your regular check ups to be sure you are tested or screened for
any complications so that action can be taken to stop matter getting
worse. Many people have minor problems that can be dealt with early so
they will not cause trouble in the long run.
Seeking advice and what care to
Ask your doctor and nurse about your risk of complications
and about how to prevent them. You should expect full education and
information about these complications and how to avoid them. You must
be checked annually to ensure problems are not developing. You should
expect to know what action needs to be taken if they are there. In
certain circumstances, you should be sent to specialists if more complicated
treatments are required.