Diabetes can affect many parts of the body and is associated with serious complications such as heart disease and stroke, blindness, kidney failure, and lower-limb amputation. Some complications, especially microvascular (e.g., eye, kidney, and nerve) disease, can be reduced with good glucose control. Also, early detection and treatment of complications can prevent progression, so monitoring with dilated eye exams, urine tests, and foot exams is essential. Because the risk of cardiovascular disease is increased in diabetes and prediabetes, blood pressure and lipid management, along with smoking cessation, are especially important. By working together, people with diagnosed diabetes, their support network, and their health care providers can reduce the occurrence of these and other diabetes-related complications.
Hypoglycemia and hyperglycemic crisis
- In 2011, about 282,000 emergency room visits for adults aged 18 years or older had hypoglycemia as the first-listed diagnosis and diabetes as another diagnosis.
- In 2011, about 175,000 emergency room visits for people of all ages had hyperglycemic crisis, e.g., diabetic ketoacidosis and hyperglycemic hyperosmolar state, as the first-listed diagnosis.
- In 2010, among adults aged 20 years or older, hyperglycemic crisis caused 2,361 deaths.
High blood pressure
- In 2009–2012, of adults aged 18 years or older with diagnosed diabetes, 71% had blood pressure greater than or equal to 140/90 millimeters of mercury or used prescription medications to lower high blood pressure.
High blood LDL cholesterol
In 2009–2012, of adults aged 18 years or older with diagnosed diabetes, 65% had blood LDL
cholesterol greater than or equal to 100 mg/dl or used cholesterol-lowering medications.
Heart disease and stroke
- In 2003–2006, after adjusting for population age differences, cardiovascular disease death rates were about 1.7 times higher among adults aged 18 years or older with diagnosed diabetes than among adults without diagnosed diabetes.
- In 2010, after adjusting for population age differences, hospitalization rates for heart attack were 1.8 times higher among adults aged 20 years or older with diagnosed diabetes than among adults without diagnosed diabetes.
- In 2010, after adjusting for population age differences, hospitalization rates for stroke were 1.5 times higher among adults with diagnosed diabetes aged 20 years or older compared to those without diagnosed diabetes.
Blindness and eye problems
- In 2005–2008, of adults with diabetes aged 40 years or older, 4.2 million (28.5%) people had diabetic retinopathy, damage to the small blood vessels in the retina that may result in loss of vision.
- In 2005–2008, of adults with diabetes aged 40 years or older, 655,000 (4.4%) had advanced diabetic retinopathy—with conditions such as clinically significant macular edema and proliferative diabetic retinopathy— that could lead to severe vision loss.
- Diabetes was listed as the primary cause of kidney failure in 44% of all new cases in 2011.
- In 2011, 49,677 people of all ages began treatment for kidney failure due to diabetes.
- In 2011, a total of 228,924 people of all ages with kidney failure due to diabetes were living on chronic dialysis or with a kidney transplant.
- In 2010, about 73,000 non-traumatic lower-limb amputations were performed in adults aged 20 years or older with diagnosed diabetes.
- About 60% of non-traumatic lower-limb amputations among people aged 20 years or older occur in people with diagnosed diabetes.
Other conditions and complications
- People with diabetes may have or develop other complications or conditions, such as nerve disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, periodontal (gum) disease, hearing loss, erectile dysfunction, depression, and complications of pregnancy, among others.