Diabetes complications are serious – reduce your risk by taking control
Managing Your Diabetes The complications of diabetes can seriously damage parts of your body, including your feet and your eyes. But many people living with diabetes don’t know they can reduce their risk of developing them.
High blood pressure causes diabetes complications
In a nutshell, diabetes related complications are caused by having high blood sugar levels over an extended period of time. High blood sugar damages blood vessels and, if they aren’t working properly, blood can’t reach the parts of the body it needs to.
We know that the higher a person’s HbA1c level, the higher their risk of developing complications. Even a slightly raised HbA1c increases someone’s risk. But it’s not just about blood sugars. High blood pressure, smoking and a lot of fat in your blood (cholesterol) can all damage your blood vessels and put you even more at risk.
Losing your sight – or a limb – to diabetes, or suffering a heart attack, stroke, or kidney disease devastates lives. But with careful management, and the support of the healthcare team, many of these problems can be delayed – or prevented altogether. This starts with helping people with diabetes know how to best manage their condition, and supporting them to take the action that will hugely help to reduce their risk of developing complications.
How to prevent or delay complications
Stopping smoking and lowering HbA1c levels, blood fats and blood pressure will prevent or slow down diabetes-related complications. Giving up smoking is one of the best things you can do, because smoking makes it even harder for blood to flow around your body.
Keeping a close eye on these levels and understanding these numbers will help someone with diabetes take control of their health. To help with this, Diabetes UK have compiled a list of the 15 most important checks a person with diabetes is entitled to – for free – regularly from the NHS.
We call these the 15 Healthcare Essentials:
- Blood glucose test (HbA1c test)
- Blood pressure check
- Cholesterol check (for blood fats)
- Eye screening
- Foot and leg check
- Kidney tests
- Advice on diet
- Emotional and psychological support
- Diabetes education course
- Care from diabetes specialists
- Free flu jab
- Good care if you’re in hospital
- Support with any sexual problems
- Help to stop smoking
- Specialist care if you’re planning to have a baby.
Knowing what these checks are, and what to do between appointments, will help reduce someone’s risk of developing complications.
Further diabetes help
We know it’s not always as simple as that, but we’re here to help. For more information or support, please visit our website at diabetes.org.uk or get in touch with us using the Diabetes UK Helpline – call 0345 123 2399, Monday to Friday, 9am–6pm.