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Additional resources for 100 questions & answers about diabetes
33. What is diabetic retinopathy? Diabetic retinopathy is damage to the eye that results from chronically untreated or inadequately treated high blood sugar. In its more advanced form, it can result in severe visual loss or blindness if untreated, and this can occur suddenly without warning. It is the leading cause of blindness in working age adults in the United States and more than 20,000 people become blind as a result of diabetes each year. QXP 1 0 0 10/1/09 Q U E S T I O N S 9:09 AM & Page 41 A N S W E R S A B O U T D I A B E T E S Although it has clearly been shown that the rate of progression of diabetic retinopathy is related to the control of the blood sugar, there are several other factors involved.
As serious, or even more serious than this, is the potential for undetected and untreated diabetes to lead to heart attacks, strokes, heart failure, or amputations. Indeed, almost 4 of every 10 patients admitted to hospital with a sudden serious cardiac event will be found to have previously unsuspected and undiagnosed diabetes or prediabetes. It is now clear that prediabetes is almost as serious a risk factor for such cardiac events and death from them as full-blown diabetes. 26. I have a strong family history of diabetes.
Running out of or not taking one’s insulin), while in the case of type 2 diabetes, there is almost always another stress to the body that precipitates the coma, such as infection, dehydration, etc. If the serious abnormalities of blood chemistry that led to diabetic coma are not corrected rapidly, death can occur. QXP 1 0 0 10/1/09 Q U E S T I O N S 9:09 AM & Page 39 A N S W E R S A B O U T D I A B E T E S What Are the Consequences of Diabetes? in blood chemistry are more complex and severe in type 1 diabetes than in type 2 diabetes, there is a higher mortality in type 2 diabetic coma because people suffering from it tend to be older, in less robust health, and with more cardiac risk factors.