Type 2 Diabetes is a lot more common than people think. Often it is something that is overlooked by the general public, but in fact it is a very important public health issue. This is for many reasons, but one of which is because the complications that can occur.

The complications can be divided up into two categories, affecting large vessels (macrovascular) and affecting small vessels (microvascular). These don’t affect all people with Type 2 Diabetes, but patients who have poor blood glucose control over a longer period of time tend to be at a higher risk.

Large vessel complications

1. Cardiovascular disease (Heart Disease)

This is where the vessels in the heart and other essential blood vessels become narrowed and it is harder to get though. This can show itself in the way of ‘angina’ which is heart related chest pain, or even a heart attack. This is a very serious and important complication.

2. Cerebrovascular disease (Strokes and mini-strokes)

If the arteries leading to the brain and in the brain become narrowed or blocked, the blood supply to the brain can be restricted. If this only happens for a short time then it could be a mini stroke, but if it lasts longer then it can cause permanent damage with a stroke.

3. Peripheral vascular disease (Narrowed vessels in the legs or other sites)

Blood flow to the vessels in other parts of the body, such as the calf muscles and feet can also be blocked compared to normal. If this happens, people can experience calf pain or foot pain with mild exercise that didn’t use to bother them. Or even pain with no exercise at all. If this gets worse and worse over time, it can mean that the feet are worse at healing and even small injuries could take a long time to heal and cause issues with walking.

Small vessel complications

4. Neuropathy (Nerve damage)

Nerve damage can affect multiple different sites, but some important ones to consider are with decreased sensation in the feet and also erectile dysfunction. With decreased sensation at the feet this can mean that something as simple as having a stone in a person’s shoe can actually cause a significant injury because they can’t feel it is there. Also, if the nerves related to erections are affected, as well as the blood supply, then this can impact erectile dysfunction.

5. Nephropathy (Kidney damage)

This is when over time, the kidneys become damaged so their ability to function as a filter is less effective than it used to be, and they can lose important things in their urine such as protein.

6. Ophthalmopathy (Eye damage)

The very small blood vessels in the eyes can be checked by doctors and they can show whether there is any diabetic damage to them. Damage to these vessels is important because it can impact upon vision.

The good news is that there is excellent treatment available for diabetes, and there are many things which can be done to help prevent these complications – such as having good blood glucose control as recommended by your specific health care provider. If you have more questions about this topic, feel free to book in a visit with one of our GP’s today.

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