Islets of Hope for persons newly diagnosed with diabetes
Article by Lahle Wolfe. For reprint information e-mail: Editor@isletsofhope.com
Links to more comprehensive information on complications of diabetes
Gary Scheiner, CDE
Newly Diagnosed (easier reading) Problems & Complaints with Diabetes
Comprehensive Information on Diabetes Problems & Complaints
Free Islets of Hope Publications to Print
Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA) - IOH Publication DKA-1-2006; 7 pages
Reactive and Fasting Hypoglycemia
How to Prepare & Inject Glucagon for Treatment of Severe Hypoglycemia (Illustrated)
You can also print selected fast-reference excepts from this full-length publication: TRE-1-2006-fr
Complications of diabetes
Amputation * Blindness * Diabetic Ketoacidosis * Diabetic Neuropathy * Diabetic Retinopathy *
People with diabetes should keep blood glucose in target ranges whenever possible, exercise regularly, have a stress management plan, and follow a meal plan designed by a registered dietitian especially for their lifestyle and type of diabetes. An overall healthy lifestyle and proper blood glucose control can help reduce the risk of all diabetes complications including cardiovascular and circulatory problems.
Several things, including having diabetes, can make your blood cholesterol level too high. Cholesterol is a substance that is made by the body and used for many important functions. It is also found in some food derived from animals. When cholesterol is too high, the insides of large blood vessels become narrowed, even clogged. This problem is called atherosclerosis and causes narrowing and clogs in blood vessels which makes it harder for enough blood to get to all parts of your body. This can cause problems including heart attack, stroke, and circulatory problems.
What are the warning signs of a heart attack?
You may have one or more of the following warning signs:
Or, you may have no warning signs at all. Or they may come and go.
What are the warning signs of a stroke?
A stroke happens when part of your brain is not getting enough blood and stops working. Depending on the part of the brain that is damaged, a stroke can cause
Sometimes, one or more of these warning signs may happen and then disappear. You might be having a "mini-stroke," also called a TIA (transient ischemic attack). If you have any of these warning signs, tell your doctor right away.
Clogged vessels can also lead to peripheral artery disease (PAD). See below.
Diabetes can be associated with high blood pressure (hypertension) and a poor lipid profile (high LDL cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol, or high triglycerides), which can lead to stroke or heart attack. If you have diabetes you should try to keep your blood pressure below certain levels (as determined by your physician) to reduce the risk of developing complications of diabetes such as heart disease, stroke, and eye problems. As a rule, the higher the pressure, the greater the health risk.
Treatment of high blood pressure includes a change in lifestyle factors where these can be improved - losing weight if you are overweight, regular exercise, a healthy diet, drinking alcohol in moderation, and a low salt intake. If needed, medication can lower blood pressure.
Diabetes kidney disease may cause hypertension. A complication which develops in some people with diabetes is called diabetic nephropathy. In this condition the kidneys are damaged which can cause high blood pressure. This is more common in people with type 1 diabetes but can also occur in persons with type 2 diabetes.
PAD, is a disease of the blood vessels. The arteries supplying blood to the limbs get blocked and usually affects one or both legs but it can also affect the arms or "peripheral" body organs (that is, any organ other than the brain, the heart, or the lungs).
Atherosclerosis, the thickening of the walls of the arteries due to cholesterol-filled plaques, is usually the cause of PAD which on occasion can occur suddenly when a blood clot formed in the heart or in another blood vessel breaks off and wedges itself in a smaller artery.
Many people do not know that they have a problem. They may think that they only have back or muscle pain-related problems, when in fact, they could have PAD. The most common symptom is cramping, pain or tiredness in the leg or hip muscles while walking or climbing stairs. Typically, this pain goes away with rest and returns when you walk again. Other symptoms include:
Approximately 75% of all persons with PAD do not have any symptoms; those that do usually mistake them for something else. PAD affects both men and women but men are more likely to experience symptoms than women. If you have diabetes, you are at risk for developing PAD.
When the parts of the body no longer being fed by the blocked blood vessels, organs and tissues don't get enough oxygen and nutrients. This causes damage and tissues ad organs can die if blood flow doesn't improve. Without treatment a person could lose a leg or die, and PAD can lead to gangrene (tissue death) and amputation. Persons with PAD may also experience angina and are at increased risk for stroke.
Page Updated 03/23/2006