Diabetes complications: You can have foot problems
Foot problems commonly plague diabetes patients, but simple routine steps can protect them. Damaged nerves in the feet can cause you to lose sensation down there, so you’re less likely to feel pain, heat, cold—or, say, a blister from a new shoe, according to the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse. Since you can’t feel these early warning signs, feet can more easily become infected; what’s more, high levels of glucose in the blood and impaired blood vessel scan make the infections slower to heal. (In very severe cases, bad infections just keep getting worse, causing skin tissue to die. This is what leads to the need for amputations).
But simply looking at your feet every day can ensure this never happens. In one study, patients who examined their feet, kept them clean, used cream in the winter to avoid cracks in the skin cut their risk of infection and amputation by 50 percent.
Diabetes complications: Your heart has to work overtime
The risk of heart disease is two to three times higher in people with diabetes, making it the strongest risk factor for heart disease, according to Joslin Diabetes Center. A cluster of issues are at play. Blood vessels in diabetes patients—already impaired—are more vulnerable to wear-and-tear from other risks like smoking, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. (And according to Joslin, 90 percent of diabetes patients have one or more of these additional risk factors). Diabetes patients also have increased low-grade inflammation in the lining of their arteries, which can lead to the stiffness that precipitates heart disease.
Fortunately, many of the same good lifestyle habits can help prevent both diabetes and heart disease. Even if you’ve heard them before, these big ones bear repeating: Stop smoking, lose weight if you need to, maintain a healthy blood pressure and blood fats/cholesterol, get physical activity, and keep blood glucose levels in check. Don’t miss these simple tricks for living well with diabetes—from people who have it.