Why we worry about diabetes in the long term - Doctablet®

What are the Long-Term Complications of Diabetes

Doctablet Diabetes, What Causes Diabetes 1 Comment

Doctors and patients are concerned about diabetes because of the complications that can occur if the blood sugar is not well controlled. The good news is that controlling diabetes will decrease the risk of complications over both the short and long term. Diabetes-related complications tend to happen over long periods of time. Also, the higher the average blood sugar, the higher the risk of developing problems.

Long term complications of diabetes

First off, why does diabetes cause damage to certain parts of the body?  Simply put, high sugar in the blood damages the walls of both small and large blood vessels. Doctors usually talk about diabetes complications based on the size of the blood vessels that are damaged: small blood vessels (microvascular) and large blood vessels (macrovascular).


Uncontrolled diabetes leads to damage in both the large and small blood vessels of the body.

Sugar damages the walls of your blood vessels both big and small.

The exact way that elevated sugar can hurt the blood vessels is complicated and under research, but there are two major changes that occur. One, there is a decrease in how well the blood vessels can expand when needed and two, it is harder to repair damaged blood vessels. Therefore, areas in the body with many small blood vessels are more likely to be affected by high blood sugar. Areas that are particularly sensitive to elevated blood sugar levels are the back of the eye, the nerves that control sensation in the feet, and the kidney. Larger blood vessels, like those that supply the heart and brain, can also be damaged.

Damage caused by diabetes:

Microvascular vs Macrovascular

Table tha describes the different types of damage uncontrolled diabetes leads to.

Other medical issues associated with diabetes are hearing problems, Alzheimer’s disease, and certain types of cancer. In the heart microvascular damage causes a medical condition commonly referred to as “Sydrome X”  Syndrome X is common is middle age and older females, and presents causes angina in those who suffer it. 

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Last Modified: Sep 17, 2018 @ 5:38 pm
About the Author

Chris Palmeiro D.O. M.Sc.


Dr. Palmeiro is Chairman of Endocrinology at the HealthAlliance of the Hudson Valley, he also serves patients with intellectual and developmental disabilities at the Westchester Institute of Human Development in Valhalla, New York. He has a Masters of Science degree in clinical nutrition and is a diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine. His interests within the realm of endocrinology include nutrition support, obesity counseling and the progressive management of diabetes.

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