University of Maryland Center for Diabetes and Endocrinology
Complications of Diabetes
Overview of Clinical Complications of Diabetes
What are the Clinical Complications Associated with Diabetes?
Clinical complications associated with diabetes may include:
- Cardiovascular disease
Cardiovascular disease, in many cases, is caused by atherosclerosis --
an excess build-up of plaque on the inner wall of a large blood vessel, which
restricts the flow of blood.
- Heart disease is the leading cause of diabetes-related deaths.
- Heart disease and stroke are 2 to 4 times more common in persons with
- Persons with diabetes have heart disease death rates nearly 2 to 4 times
higher than in persons without diabetes.
High blood pressure affects 60-65 percent of people with diabetes.
- Dental disease
- Periodontal (gum) disease occurs with greater frequency in persons with
diabetes. Periodontal disease occurs among 30 percent of people 19 years old
or older with type 1 diabetes.
- Retinopathy or glaucoma (eye disease or
- Blindness due to diabetic retinopathy is a more important cause of visual
impairment in younger-onset people than in older-onset people. Males with
younger-onset diabetes develop retinopathy more rapidly than females with
- Diabetic retinopathy causes from 12,000 to 24,000 new cases of blindness
- Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness among adults 20-74 years
- Renal disease (kidney/urinary
- Ten to twenty-one percent of all people with diabetes develop kidney disease.
- Diabetes is the leading cause of end-stage renal disease (ESRD), a condition
in which the patient requires dialysis or a kidney transplant in order
- According to the latest recorded statistics from the National Institute
of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), in 1995, 98,872
persons with diabetes underwent dialysis or transplantation.
- Neuropathy (nerve disease)
- Approximately 60-70 percent of people with diabetes have mild to severe
forms of diabetic nerve damage.
- Severe forms of diabetic nerve disease are the major contributing cause
of lower-extremity amputations.
More than half the amputations in the US occur among people with diabetes.
- Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA)
DKA is one of the most serious outcomes of poorly controlled diabetes,
and primarily occurs in persons with type 1 diabetes. DKA is marked by high
blood glucose levels along with ketones in the urine. DKA is responsible for
about 10 percent of diabetes-related deaths in individuals with diabetes under
Preventing Diabetes Complications:
Persons with diabetes must stay alert for symptoms that can lead to clinical
complications. The best way to do this is:
- get regular checkups -- finding problems early is the best way to keep complications
from becoming serious.
- keep appointments with your physician -- even when you are feeling well.
- be aware of symptoms and warning signs of potential problems, including:
- vision problems (blurriness, spots)
- pale skin color
- obesity (more than 20 pounds overweight)
- numbness or tingling feelings in hands or feet
- repeated infections or slow healing of wounds
- chest pain
- vaginal itching
- constant headaches
- keep blood-sugar levels close to normal
- control weight
- eat a healthy, well-balanced diet
- get regular exercise
- check your feet every day for even minor cuts or blister
- do not smoke
University of Maryland Center for Diabetes and Endocrinology treats all the complications
listed above. Learn more by selecting the following links:
This page was last updated on:
July 20, 2012.
For appointments or information, call 1-888-567-5468.