Complications of Diabetes – A Disease Affecting All Organs
We’re treating people with type 2 diabetes completely wrong – and it’s harming every organ in their bodies.
Hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) may be the hallmark of diabetes, but does not cause most of the morbidity (the harm of the disease). Blood glucose is fairly easily controlled by medication, but this does not prevent the long-term complications. Despite blood glucose control, damage occurs to virtually every organ system.
It would be difficult to find a single organ system NOT affected by diabetes. These complications are generally classified as either microvascular (small blood vessels) or macrovascular (large blood vessels).
Certain organs, such as the eyes, kidneys and nerves are predominantly perfused by small blood vessels. Chronic damage to these small blood vessels causes failure of these organs. Damage to larger blood vessels results in narrowing called atherosclerotic plaque. When this plaque ruptures, it triggers an inflammatory reaction and blood clots that cause heart attacks and strokes. When blood flow is impaired to the legs, it may cause gangrene due to reduced circulation.
There are other complications do not fall neatly into this simple categorization. A variety of diabetic complications are not obviously caused by injured blood vessels. These would include skin conditions, fatty liver disease, infections, polycystic ovarian syndromes, Alzheimer’s disease and cancer.
Diabetes is the leading cause of new cases of blindness in the United States, according to the Center for Disease Control in 2011.
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