Almost every part of the body can be affected by the complications of diabetes, including the heart, eyes, blood vessels, teeth, and skin. Examples of long-term complications include blindness, kidney failure, stroke, and sexual problems. Some complications can even lead to loss of life. Often, long-term complications of the disease can be prevented or delayed by keeping blood glucose, blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides in a normal or close-to-normal range.
Over 20 million adults have diabetes, a chronic condition in which sugar (glucose) levels in the blood are too high. Over time, this high blood glucose level can lead to diabetes complications. In fact, diabetes is associated with long-term complications that affect almost every part of the body, including:
These problems can cause complications such as:
- Heart and blood vessel disease (known medically as cardiovascular disease)
- Heart attacks
- Kidney failure
- Sexual problems
- Nerve damage
- Problems during pregnancy
Such complications can be prevented or delayed by keeping blood glucose, blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides in a normal or close-to-normal range.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for people with diabetes. Three out of four diabetes-related deaths are caused by heart and blood vessel (cardiovascular) disease. People with diabetes are 2 to 4 times more likely to have heart disease than people without diabetes. Even people with type 2 diabetes who do not have heart disease are at an increased risk of having a heart attack. People with diabetes also tend to have other risk factors for heart disease, including:
(Click Diabetes and Heart Disease for more information.)