Diabetes Complications and Prevention

Diabetes complications and thoughts on them is the most difficult part of coping with this condition.  It is common knowledge that at least 40% of type 2 diabetics will acquire another disease because of it.  But this does not need to happen.  There are things one can do to prevent these from coming or at least delay their onset and/or progress.

This condition can affect different parts of the body so diabetes complications are real.  If we do not address the possibility of their coming, over time, this illness can damage the eyes, kidneys, nervous system and heart.  Some who are reading this article may have already experienced this but there is good news. 

What is the good news?  The good news is that all the diabetes complications this article mentions can all be prevented by keeping the blood glucose levels as close to normal as possible.  This fact alone can help prevent or delay their appearance.

It is not a good idea to dwell on this topic but the harsh truth is that the more one thinks of how to prevent the diabetes complications, the better he will be.  By keeping the blood glucose level to the normal level as much as possible, stopping smoking and losing weight, one can achieve an uncomplicated life.

Too much sugar in the blood is the cause of almost all of the diabetes complications.  You see, the problem is that the blood vessels which carry the glucose to all parts of the body gets too clogged up to the point the blood cannot reach where it is needed.

The result?  It hinders the circulation to the eyes causing retinopathy.  Too much glucose can also result in damage to the kidneys called nephropathy and leads to hardening of the arteries called atherosclerosis.  This hinders the blood flow to the brain causing stroke and to the heart that leads to heart attack.

The same thing happens to the nerve cells.  Too much glucose in the blood can do damage to them thus hampering the message that is sent throughout the body including the feet.  There are other parts that are affected but the good news is we can all prevent them from happening.

Let us take a look at the study known as the DCCT, the acronym for Diabetes Control and Complications Trial.  There were 1441 participants with Type 1 diabetes who were divided into two groups.  One group used intensive treatment while the members of the other group were put on conventional treatment.

How do these two treatments differ?  The intensive treatment consists of testing the blood glucose often with the addition of insulin that is short-acting with three to four daily injections or one dose of insulin that is long-acting.   In contrast, the conventional treatment consists of diabetes control to get rid of the symptoms without doing too much of self-monitoring.

How did the DCCT study turn out?  They had to cut this trial that was intended to go for ten years because the results were amazing.  Those on intensive therapy were able to obstruct the microvascular complications by 36-76%.  These include damage to the eyes, gums, kidneys, and feet.

As for the eye disease, it was reduced by 76%.  The kidney disease and nerve damage were reduced by 56% and 61% respectively.  In addition, the high cholesterol was reduced by 35%.  This can of course diminish the macrovascular problems of stroke and heart.

The verdict?  The intensive therapy for those who suffer from type 1 and type 2 diabetes lengthens life and dramatically reduces diabetes complications.  Frequent self-monitoring of blood sugar combined with a healthy life style go a long way in beating this condition.

By Roger Guzman, M.D. and Evelyn Guzman

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