Diabetes is a disease where the pancreas doesn't secrete enough insulin or the body cannot use it effectively, resulting in blood sugar levels that are higher than normal. When blood sugar levels are not controlled over prolonged periods of time, nerves and blood vessels become damaged and this affects many organs and systems within the body.
Deaths from complications of diabetes are becoming more and more common. Diabetes is the seenth leading cause of death in the United States (based on data from 2006). Many of these deaths are deaths from complications of diabetes.
The Deaths from Complications of Diabetes
One of the main causes of deaths from complications of diabetes is heart disease. In 2004, heart disease accounted for 68 percent of all diabetes-related deaths for people over the age of 65. It was also noted in the same year, that 16 percent of diabetics that were 65 or older died of a stroke. The rate at which diabetics have heart disease and stroke are both two to four times more than that of a non-diabetic. High blood pressure is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke, and many Americans have high blood pressure in addition to their diabetes.
Many deaths from complications of diabetes occur because of kidney failure, and diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure.
Uncontrolled diabetes can also lead to biochemical changes in the body that cause life threatening conditions such as hyperosmolar or diabetic ketoacidosis. There are also a whole host of other illnesses that diabetics are more susceptible to die from once they catch it, such as pneumonia or influenza.
How to Prevent Complications
See you doctor regularly, even if you are feeling okay. It is possible to avoid deaths from complications of diabetes by undergoing certain tests as part of preventive care.
Having your glucose tested by your doctor is important, as glycemic control is of paramount importance to diabetics trying to avoid deaths from complications of diabetes. Research has shown that for every whole number percentage drop in a person's HbA1c level there is up to a 40 percent less likelihood of developing certain microvascular complications.
Blood pressure is something that should be tested in people who are diabetic as well. Good blood pressure control among people with diabetes reduces their risk of cardiovascular disease by 33 to 50 percent. It also significantly reduces the risk of microvascular disease.
Diabetics should also have good control of their lipids. For example, having improved control over your LDL cholesterol alone can reduce your chances of cardiovascular complications by at least 20 percent.
Make Lifestyle Changes
Testing alone does not do people any good if they are trying to avoid deaths from complications of diabetes. What is needed is a long-term commitment to lose weight, exercise, eat healthy, and check blood sugars often. It is also very important to quit smoking if you are a smoker. Diabetic smokers have a far greater chance of dying from heart disease than diabetics who are non-smokers.