If you are obese, you are also more likely to develop complications in pregnancy.
High Blood Pressure
Blood pressure measures how strongly blood presses against the walls of your arteries (large blood vessels) as it is pumped around your body by your heart. If this pressure is too high it puts a strain on your arteries and your heart, which makes it more likely that you will suffer a heart attack, a stroke or kidney disease.
Complications caused by diabetes
If diabetes is not treated, it can lead to a number of different health problems. High glucose levels can damage blood vessels, nerves and organs.
Even a mildly raised glucose level that does not cause any symptoms can have damaging effects in the long-term:
- Heart disease and stroke If you have diabetes, you are up to five times more likely to develop heart disease or have a stroke. Prolonged, poorly controlled blood glucose levels increase the likelihood of atherosclerosis (a condition involving the furring and narrowing of your blood vessels). This may result in a poor blood supply to your heart, causing angina (a dull, heavy or tight pain in the chest). It also increases the chance that a blood vessel in your heart or brain will become blocked, leading to a heart attack or stroke.
- Nerve damage High blood glucose levels can damage the tiny blood vessels in your nerves. This can cause a tingling or burning pain that spreads from your fingers and toes up through your limbs. It can also cause numbness which can lead to ulceration of the feet. If the nerves in your digestive system are affected, you may experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea or constipation.
- Retinopathy Retinopathy is where the retina (the light-sensitive layer of tissue) at the back of the eye is damaged, affecting your vision.
- Kidney disease If the small blood vessels of your kidney become blocked and leaky, your kidneys will work less efficiently. It is usually associated with high blood pressure. In rare, severe cases, kidney disease can lead to kidney failure and a kidney replacement treatment with dialysis (or sometimes kidney transplantation) will be necessary.
- Foot problems About 1 in 10 people with diabetes get a foot ulcer, which can cause serious infection.
- Sexual dysfunction
- Miscarriage and stillbirth
Coronary heart disease (CHD)
Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the nations biggest killer.
Why does coronary heart disease happen?
Coronary heart disease is the term that describes what happens when your heart's blood supply is blocked or interrupted by a build-up of fatty substances in the coronary arteries.
Over time, the walls of your arteries can become furred up with fatty deposits. This process is known as atherosclerosis and the fatty deposits are called atheroma.
Atherosclerosis can be caused by lifestyle habits and other conditions, such as:
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
By making some simple lifestyle changes, you can reduce your risk of getting CHD. These include:
- Eating a healthy, balanced diet
- Being physically active
- Giving up smoking
- Controlling blood cholesterol and sugar levels
Keeping your heart healthy will also have other health benefits, and help reduce your risk of stroke and dementia.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the term for a wide range of conditions caused by a build-up of fat within the liver cells. It is usually seen in people who are overweight or obese.
NAFLD stage 4: Cirrhosis
At this most severe stage, bands of scar tissue and clumps of liver cells develop. The liver shrinks and becomes lumpy. This is known as cirrhosis.
Cirrhosis tends to occur after the age of 50-60, after many years of liver inflammation associated with the early stages of the disease.
People with cirrhosis of the liver caused by NAFLD often also have type 2 diabetes.
The damage caused by cirrhosis is permanent and can't be reversed. Cirrhosis progresses slowly, over many years, gradually causing your liver to stop functioning.
You are more likely to develop NAFLD if you:
- Are obese or overweight
- Have type 2 diabetes (this causes an increased uptake of fat into the liver cells)
- Are over the age of 50
- Have high blood pressure
- Have high cholesterol
Chronic kidney disease (CKD)
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a long-term condition where the kidneys do not work effectively.
CKD does not usually cause symptoms until reaching an advanced stage. It is usually detected at earlier stages by blood and urine tests.
The main role of the kidneys is to filter waste products from the blood before converting them into urine. The kidneys also:
- Help maintain blood pressure
- Maintain the correct levels of chemicals in your body which, in turn, will help heart and muscles function properly
- Produce a type of vitamin D that keeps bones healthy
- Produce a substance called erythropoietin, which helps stimulate production of red blood cells
Chronic kidney disease is the reduced ability of the kidney to carry out these functions in the long-term. This is most often caused by the strain placed on the kidneys by other conditions, most commonly diabetes and high blood pressure.
Preventing chronic kidney disease
Some lifestyle changes can also reduce the risk of CKD developing, including:
- Having a healthy diet
- Avoiding drinking excessive amounts of alcohol
- Exercising regularly