Complications of Type 1 diabetes


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About complications: Complications of Type 1 diabetes are secondary conditions, symptoms, or other disorders that are caused by Type 1 diabetes. In many cases the distinction between symptoms of Type 1 diabetes and complications of Type 1 diabetes is unclear or arbitrary.

Complications list for Type 1 diabetes: The list of complications that have been mentioned in various sources for Type 1 diabetes includes:

Complications of Type 1 diabetes: The retina is the light-sensing tissue at the back of the eye. According to the National Eye Institute, one of the National Institutes of Health, as many as 24,000 persons with diabetes lose their sight each year. In the United States, diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness in adults under age 65.1

Complications of diabetes Heart disease

  • Heart disease is the leading cause of diabetes-related deaths. Adults with diabetes have heart disease death rates about 2 to 4 times as high as those of adults without diabetes.
Stroke
  • The risk of stroke is 2 to 4 times higher in people with diabetes.
High blood pressure
  • An estimated 60 to 65 percent of people with diabetes have high blood pressure.
Blindness
  • Diabetes is the leading cause of new cases of blindness in adults 20 to 74 years old.
  • Diabetic retinopathy causes from 12,000 to 24,000 new cases of blindness each year.
Kidney disease
  • Diabetes is the leading cause of end-stage renal disease, accounting for about 40 percent of new cases.
  • 27,851 people with diabetes developed end-stage renal disease in 1995.
  • In 1995, a total of 98,872 people with diabetes underwent dialysis or kidney transplantation.
Nervous system disease
  • About 60 to 70 percent of people with diabetes have mild to severe forms of nervous system damage (which often includes impaired sensation or pain in the feet or hands, slowed digestion of food in the stomach, carpal tunnel syndrome, and other nerve problems).
  • Severe forms of diabetic nerve disease are a major contributing cause of lower extremity amputations.
Amputations
  • More than half of lower limb amputations in the United States occur among people with diabetes.
  • From 1993 to 1995, about 67,000 amputations were performed each year among people with diabetes.
Dental disease
  • Periodontal disease (a type of gum disease that can lead to tooth loss) occurs with greater frequency and severity among people with diabetes. Periodontal disease has been reported to occur among 30 percent of people age 19 years or older with type 1 diabetes.
Complications of pregnancy
  • The rate of major congenital malformations in babies born to women with preexisting diabetes varies from 0 to 5 percent among women who receive preconception care to 10 percent among women who do not receive preconception care.
  • Between 3 and 5 percent of pregnancies among women with diabetes result in death of the newborn; the rate for women who do not have diabetes is 1.5 percent.
Other complications
  • Diabetes can directly cause acute life-threatening events, such as diabetic ketoacidosis* and hyperosmolar nonketotic coma.*
  • People with diabetes are more susceptible to many other illnesses. For example, they are more likely to die of pneumonia or influenza than people who do not have diabetes.
*Diabetic ketoacidosis and hyperosmolar nonketotic coma are medical conditions that can result from biochemical imbalance in uncontrolled diabetes.2

High blood sugar and high blood pressure from diabetes can hurt four parts of your eye:

  1. Retina (REH-ti-nuh). The retina is the lining at the back of the eye. The retina's job is to sense light coming into the eye.

  2. Vitreous (VIH-tree-us). The vitreous is a jelly-like fluid that fills the back of the eye.

  3. Lens. The lens is at the front of the eye and it focuses light on the retina.

  4. Optic nerve. The optic nerve is the eye's main nerve to the brain.
3

Having high blood sugar for many years can damage the blood vessels that bring oxygen to some nerves. High blood sugar can also hurt the covering on the nerves. Damaged nerves may stop sending messages. Or they may send messages too slowly or at the wrong times.

Diabetic neuropathy (ne-ROP-uh-thee) is the medical name for damage to the nervous system from diabetes. 4

People with diabetes can have tooth and gum problems more often if their blood sugar stays high. High blood sugar can make tooth and gum problems worse. You can even lose your teeth. 5

Complication statistics for Type 1 diabetes: The following are statistics from various sources about the complications of Type 1 diabetes:

  • Lowering blood glucose levels in type 1 diabetics reduces the risk of eye disease by 76% in the US 1983-99 (Disease Control and Complications Trial, NIH, 1983-1993)
  • Lowering blood glucose levels in type 1 diabetics reduces the risk of kidney disease by 50% in the US 1983-99 (Disease Control and Complications Trial, NIH, 1983-1993)
  • Lowering blood glucose levels in type 1 diabetics reduces the risk of nerve disease by 60% in the US 1983-99 (Disease Control and Complications Trial, NIH, 1983-1993)
  • Lowering blood glucose levels in type 1 diabetics can slow the progression of eye disease by 54% in Australia 1983-99 (Disease Control and Complications Trial, NIH, 1983-1993)
  • Up to 24,000 diabetics lose their eye sight annually in Australia 1983-99 (Disease Control and Complications Trial, NIH, 1983-1993)
  • Retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness in adults under 65 in the US 1983-99 (Disease Control and Complications Trial, NIH, 1983-1993)
  • Lowering blood glucose levels in type 1 diabetics significantly reduces the risk of high cholesterol in the US 1983-99 (Disease Control and Complications Trial, NIH, 1983-1993)
  • Intensive control of blood glucose levels in type 1 diabetics increases the risk for severe hypoglycaemia in the US 1983-99 (Disease Control and Complications Trial, NIH, 1983-1993)
  • Intensive control of blood glucose levels in type 1 diabetics often leads to some weight gain in the US 1983-99 (Disease Control and Complications Trial, NIH, 1983-1993)


Footnotes:
1. excerpt from Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT): NIDDK
2. excerpt from Diabetes Statistics in the United States: NIDDK
3. excerpt from Keep your eyes healthy: NIDDK
4. excerpt from Keep your nervous system healthy: NIDDK
5. excerpt from Keep your teeth and gums healthy: NIDDK

Last revision: April 10, 2003

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