November is Diabetes Awareness Month. With Type I and Type II diabetes affecting more than 30 million Americans, and Type II diabetes making up over 90% of diagnosed cases, it’s safe to say that this chronic health condition is a medical crisis for folks in our country. However, because it is so common and not as immediately life-threatening as cancer, diabetes does not get the attention it deserves. We want to shed some light on the various ways in which abnormal blood sugar levels can degrade just about every part of the body.
The Circulatory System
Multiple studies have confirmed that elevated blood sugar can damage large and small blood vessels throughout the body. This may be referred to as macrovascular disease or microvascular disease. Complications of diabetes-related blood vessel damage include stroke, heart attack, vein disease, and more. Because the blood vessels carry oxygen and nutrients to all parts of the body, circulatory issues secondary to diabetes may cause nerve, kidney, and eye problems. More recent research even points to diabetes as a potential contributing factor to erectile dysfunction.
The Cardiovascular System
The cardiovascular system is affected when excess sugar in the blood causes blood vessels to become more rigid. The loss of elasticity in the blood vessels leads to the accumulation of fatty deposits, which narrows the blood vessels and arteries. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults with diabetes have a 200 to 400% higher risk for heart disease and stroke as do people with normal blood sugar levels.
The Nervous System
It is well-known that uncontrolled diabetes creates a risk for nerve damage, or neuropathy. This, like many other conditions, relates to the degradation of healthy blood vessels secondary to diabetes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in every two diabetic patients will develop neuropathy and experience pain in the feet, legs, or arms.
The Urinary System
The kidneys work overtime when there is too much sugar in the blood. The persistent demand for output to dilute sugar from the blood combined with damage to blood vessels in the kidneys diminishes function over time. Studies suggest that diabetes is a leading cause of kidney disease and kidney failure.
Why It Matters
At Med Ed Labs, we believe that there is no replacement for human tissue study if we are to appropriately address the various health conditions patients encounter. Human cadaver study enables physicians to observe, in real life, the effects of chronic health conditions on tissues, organs, and systems.