Diabetes is a disease that affects greater than 20 million people in the United States. The main feature of diabetes is an inability to regulate how “sugar” is used by the cells of the body. How the body regulates “sugar” is complex. In simple terms, the body either doesn’t have enough insulin to properly control sugar use, or the cells of the body don’t respond properly to insulin and fail to use sugar properly. In either case, blood sugar levels tend to be high. Individuals with diabetes are more likely to develop heart disease and stroke, kidney and eye disease, diseases of the nerves and diseases of the general circulation, among many complications of diabetes. Why those with diabetes are at increased risk for these diseases is not well understood. An emphasis on good blood sugar control with exercise, good nutrition, weight loss in those overweight and medication to control blood sugar and the other “risk factors” for these diseases such as high cholesterol is usually stressed by physicians.
Figure 1 and 2: Complications caused by diabetes.
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