What are the Clinical Complications Associated with Diabetes?
Clinical complications associated with diabetes may include:
- Cardiovascular disease
Cardiovascular disease, in many cases, is caused by atherosclerosis -- an excess build-up of plaque on the inner wall of a large blood vessel, which restricts the flow of blood.
- Heart disease is the leading cause of diabetes-related deaths.
- Heart disease and stroke are 2 to 4 times more common in persons with diabetes.
- Persons with diabetes have heart disease death rates nearly 2 to 4 times higher than in persons without diabetes.
High blood pressure affects 60-65 percent of people with diabetes.
- Dental disease
- Periodontal (gum) disease occurs with greater frequency in persons with diabetes. Periodontal disease occurs among 30 percent of people 19 years old or older with type 1 diabetes.
- Retinopathy or glaucoma (eye disease or blindness)
- Blindness due to diabetic retinopathy is a more important cause of visual impairment in younger-onset people than in older-onset people. Males with younger-onset diabetes develop retinopathy more rapidly than females with younger-onset diabetes.
- Diabetic retinopathy causes from 12,000 to 24,000 new cases of blindness each year.
- Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness among adults 20-74 years of age.
- Renal disease (kidney/urinary tract disease)
- Ten to twenty-one percent of all people with diabetes develop kidney disease.
- Diabetes is the leading cause of end-stage renal disease (ESRD), a condition in which the patient requires dialysis or a kidney transplant in order to live.
- According to the latest recorded statistics from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), in 1995, 98,872 persons with diabetes underwent dialysis or transplantation.
- Neuropathy (nerve disease)
- Approximately 60-70 percent of people with diabetes have mild to severe forms of diabetic nerve damage.
- Severe forms of diabetic nerve disease are the major contributing cause of lower-extremity amputations.
More than half the amputations in the US occur among people with diabetes.
- Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA)
DKA is one of the most serious outcomes of poorly controlled diabetes, and primarily occurs in persons with type 1 diabetes. DKA is marked by high blood glucose levels along with ketones in the urine. DKA is responsible for about 10 percent of diabetes-related deaths in individuals with diabetes under age 45.
Preventing Diabetes Complications:
Persons with diabetes must stay alert for symptoms that can lead to clinical complications. The best way to do this is:
- get regular checkups -- finding problems early is the best way to keep complications from becoming serious.
- keep appointments with your physician -- even when you are feeling well.
- be aware of symptoms and warning signs of potential problems, including:
- vision problems (blurriness, spots)
- pale skin color
- obesity (more than 20 pounds overweight)
- numbness or tingling feelings in hands or feet
- repeated infections or slow healing of wounds
- chest pain
- vaginal itching
- constant headaches
- keep blood-sugar levels close to normal
- control weight
- eat a healthy, well-balanced diet
- get regular exercise
- check your feet every day for even minor cuts or blister
- do not smoke
University of Maryland Center for Diabetes and Endocrinology treats all the complications listed above. Learn more by selecting the following links:
For more information or to make an appointment, please call 855-979-8667.
This page was last updated: May 6, 2014