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- The Mayo Clinic: Type 2 Diabetes
- The National Diabetes Clearinghouse: Prevent diabetes problems: Keep your heart and blood vessels healthy
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that type 2 diabetes accounts for 90 to 95 percent of all cases of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is a result of insulin resistance. Insulin is a natural body protein that helps glucose, which cells use for energy, transfer from the blood stream into the cells. Insulin resistance means that the cells do not respond normally to insulin, resulting in sustained high blood glucose levels. Type 2 diabetes has multiple varied effects on the body.
Blood Vessel and Heart Damage
The American Diabetes Association, or ADA, reports that 2 out 3 people with diabetes has high blood pressure. Over time, too much sugar in the blood can cause damage to many parts of the body including the heart and blood vessels. Having high blood pressure and diabetes doubly increases a person's risk of heart attack and stroke, which according to the National Diabetes Clearinghouse, are the leading causes of death for people with diabetes.
The kidneys contain millions of tiny blood vessels that filter waste from the blood. Diabetes can damage this filtering system. If the kidneys become too damaged, a person may have to undergo dialysis to filter the blood, or else have a kidney transplant.
Type 2 diabetes can have detrimental effects on the eyes. According to the ADA, most people with diabetes will be affected by retinopathy, which is damage to the light-sensing tissue at the back of the eye. Glaucoma and cataracts also occur more frequently in people with diabetes. Glaucoma is high pressure inside the eye, which can ultimately cause damage to the retina and optic nerve. Cataracts result in cloudy obstructive patches on the lens of the eye. All three of these eye disorders can ultimately cause blindness if not treated.
Type 2 diabetes can also cause nerve damage and poor blood circulation, especially in the feet. The result of nerve damage includes pain and/or numbness. Numbness can cause a person to injure their foot and not notice it. Poor blood circulation can lead to slow-healing sores and serious infections, which can ultimately lead to amputation.
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