Chairs - Diana DeGette & Mike Castle

Complications of Diabetes

Heart disease

  • Heart disease is the leading cause of diabetes-related deaths. Adults with diabetes have heart disease death rates about 2 to 4 times higher than adults without diabetes.
  • In 2004, heart disease was noted on 68% of diabetes-related death certificates among people aged 65 or older.


  • The risk for stroke is 2 to 4 times higher among people with diabetes.

High blood pressure

  • About 67 percent of adults with diabetes have blood pressure greater than or equal to 140/90mm Hg or use prescription medications for hypertension.


  • Diabetes is the leading cause of new cases of blindness among adults 20 to 74 years old.
  • Diabetic retinopathy causes from 12,000 to 24,000 new cases of blindness each year.

Kidney disease

  • Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure accounting for 44 percent of new cases of kidney failure in 2008.
  • In 2008, 48,374people with diabetes began treatment for end-stage renal disease.
  • In 2008, a total of 202, 290 people with diabetes were living on chronic dialysis or with a kidney transplant.

Nervous system disease

  • About 60 to 70 percent of people with diabetes have mild to severe forms of nervous system damage. The results of such damage include impaired sensation or pain in the feet or hands, slowed digestion of food in the stomach, carpal tunnel syndrome, and other nerve problems.
  • Almost 30 percent of people with diabetes aged 40 years or older have impaired sensation in the feet.
  • Severe forms of diabetic nerve disease are a major contributing cause of lower-extremity amputations.


  • Diabetes is the leading cause of nontraumatic lower-limb amputations. More than 60 percent of nontraumatic lower-limb amputations in the United States occur among people with diabetes.
  • In 2006, about 65,700nontraumatic lower-limb amputations were performed each year among people with diabetes.

Dental disease

  • Periodontal or gum diseases are more common among people with diabetes than among people without diabetes. Among young adults, those with diabetes are have about twice the risk of those without diabetes.
  • Adults aged 45 years or older with poorly controlled diabetes were 2.9 times more likely to have sever periodontitis than those without diabetes.
  • About one third of people with diabetes have severe periodontal diseases with loss of attachment of the gums to the teeth measuring 5 millimeters or more.

Complications of pregnancy

  • Poorly controlled diabetes before conception and during the first trimester of pregnancy in women with type 1 diabetes can cause major birth defects in 5 to 10 percent of pregnancies and spontaneous abortions in 15 to 20 percent of pregnancies.  However, for a woman with pre=existing diabetes, optimizing blood glucose levels before and during early pregnancy can reduce the risk of birth defects in their infants.
  • Poorly controlled diabetes during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy can result in excessively large babies, posing a risk to the mother and the child.

Other complications

    • Uncontrolled diabetes often leads to biochemical imbalances that can cause acute life-threatening events, such as diabetic ketoacidosis and hyperosmolar (nonketotic) coma.
    • People with diabetes are more susceptible to many other illnesses and, once they acquire these illnesses, often have a worse prognosis than people without diabetes. For example, they are more likely to die with pneumonia or influenza than people who do not have diabetes.
    • People with diabetes aged 60 years or older are 2-3 times more likely to report an inability to walk one quarter of a mile, climb stairs, or do housework compared with people without diabetes in the same age group.
    • People with diabetes are twice as likely to have depression, which can complicate diabetes management, than people without diabetes.  In addition, depressioin is associated with a 60 percent increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.