Diabetes is not just about the blood sugar levels. Yes, high blood sugars directly damages our arteries and many organs. Every time the blood sugars goes much above 8.0 mmol/L,
- The arterial wall,
- The capillaries at the back of the eye (retina),
- The kidneys,
- The heart muscles,
- The brains cells,
- The nerve cells and
- The liver cells
all sustain damage. They are damaged a little bit at a time and there are no symptoms whatsoever. It is years later when we discover the extent of the damage. It’s really a time bomb ticking away. The complications of diabetes are the above organs being damaged:
- Circulatory failure – blocked arteries to the heart (heart attacks) and limbs (gangrene and amputations)
- Blindness (bleeding and swelling of the retina)
- Kidney failure (leading to dialysis)
- Heart failure (and death)
- Strokes and dementia
- Fatty liver and cirrhosis
On average, diabetes reduces life expectancy by at least 16 years and reduces productive life by many more years. In other words, diabetes not only kills you years earlier, the last 10-15 years of that is with multiple disabilities.
It would be ideal if we can get rid of diabetes (remission) and we can do that early in the disease. If not, optimal management of the sugar levels will reduce the likelihood of the complications. We also need to manage the associated conditions which comes with diabetes:
- Blood lipids (cholesterol and triglycerides)
- High blood pressure
- Joint degeneration (arthritis)
A very diligent look out for the potential complications to ensure that we diagnose and manage them early and aggressively will reduce the morbidity and mortality related to diabetes.
Management of diabetes is very complex and very involved. It require a dedicated team of health professionals with a GP leader working with you. Here at healthfocus, we have the passion and the team to do the job.