increased risk for developing vascular disease

Diabetes is a disease affecting the way your body breaks down carbohydrates. Because of the inadequate production of insulin, or an insufficient response to insulin, the body’s cells are unable to remove glucose (sugar) from the body and use it for energy.

Today, there are many excellent treatments available for people with diabetes. However, great danger for people with the condition stems from long-term disease-associated complications, such as heart disease, kidney failure, amputation, and blindness.

Diabetes can affect virtually every part of the body, but some of the most debilitating complications involve the network of blood vessels that deliver oxygen and nutrition to the body. Coronary artery disease is the number one cause of premature death for people with diabetes.

When arteries leading to the brain become diseased, a stroke may be imminent. People with diabetes have a risk of stroke at least double that of people who are not affected by the disease.

People with diabetes also have a significantly higher risk of developing peripheral vascular disease. Poor blood flow to the lower body can result in foot problems, leg pain when walking, and sometimes severe circulation problems that can lead to amputation.

Damage to blood vessels can be directly linked with uncontrolled blood sugar. On its own, blood glucose can harden and obstruct arteries. When glucose builds up and floods the arteries, it causes progressive damage, making the vessels less elastic and less able to function normally. High levels of insulin can cause changes that are harmful to the cardiovascular system. It can cause an increase in triglycerides and LDL cholesterol, a decrease in HDL – the good cholesterol, and can raise blood pressure levels.

All of these factors add up to an increased risk for vascular disease. If you already have diabetes, or have a family history of the disorder, it is important to take early action to keep your blood vessels healthy:

  • Speak to your doctor about a referral to the OLBH Diabetes & Wound Care Center for help in managing your disease
  • Don’t smoke. If you do smoke, stop
  • Keep blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar as close to normal as possible
  • Exercise regularly
  • Keep weight under control
  • Eat a diet low in saturated fats and high in fruits, vegetables, fiber, and low-fat dairy products

For more information about the effects of diabetes and OLBH’s services, please contact the OLBH Diabetes & Wound Care Center, located at Bellefonte Centre on the OLBH campus. The center can be reached by calling 606-833-4043.

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