18 March 2011

Diabetes Risks Go Beyond Heart Disease

I know how people like to get diverted in believing one thing when they need to maintain an open mind. This study should make you realize that believing only in one dimension can be misleading and when you have diabetes, this can be very misleading.

We have all read that having diabetes doubles the risk of having a heart attack or stroke. This in itself is a good thing because it makes many doctors and patients pay closer attention to blood pressure, cholesterol, and other signs of a cardiovascular system that may be in trouble.

The forgotten causes of death are often set aside and little attention paid to them. This study states that 40 percent of deaths in people with diabetes are due to non-cardiovascular causes. Did that get your attention? It should. What are these causes and why should we include them?

For people with diabetes, your risks of dying from kidney disease has tripled, and your risk of death from infection (excluding pneumonia) or liver cancer has more than doubled. Other risks that have increased slightly are other types of cancers. These include ovarian, pancreatic, colorectal, breast, bladder, and lung cancers.

If you are still not convinced, diabetes raises the risk of death from Alzheimer's disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), falls, nervous system disorders, digestive disorders, suicide, and liver disease. The study shows that even after accounting for the effects of other influences on the risk of death like body mass index (BMI), age, sex, and smoking, the above risks still remain. And lest anybody forget you can also die from natural causes and that risk seems to remain without the other risks. It is just that this risk does not go away.

This should be a wake up call to doctors and patients to be alert for non-cardiovascular causes as well as cardiovascular risks. Everyone with diabetes should be screened for cancer regularly and regular checks made for the liver and kidney functions. Infections need attention promptly by a doctor by the patient reporting visible ones and the doctor continuing to monitor white cells counts and using other tests.

The patient needs to keep vaccinations current when applicable, especially for pneumonia, hepatitis, and others. Read my blog here for the checklist and then enjoy the article about non-cardiovascular death risks here.

If I have caused fear, that was not intended. What I am seeking is to wake you up to things you may have put out of your mind because your cholesterol, blood pressure, and other cardiovascular problems are in control. You need to work on the other areas while managing the in control areas.

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